Study: 70% of sexual harassers are under 40 and colleagues, not bosses
- While many of the high-profile accused sexual harassers have been older and in positions of power, a new Fairygodboss poll found that 70% of harassers in the workplace are under age 40. Fairygodboss, a career community for women, surveyed more than 500 female employees across job types and industries.
- Other key findings show that 43% of women experienced sexual harassment at work; 67% of women don't report incidents for fear of being considered a "troublemaker;" and when women do report incidents, they notify their manager or supervisor.
- Poll results also showed that while 36.2% of alleged harassers were a direct boss, the majority of harassers (57%) were colleagues. People who manage others accounted for 25.1% of alleged sexual harassers and clients or vendors made up 11.6%.
The #MeToo movement is encouraging more people to come forward with their experience as targets or witnesses of sexual harassment. Managers should be relaying those complaints to HR, which has a responsibility to follow up with an investigation. Unfortunately, many company cultures discourage women from approaching anyone out of fear of being labeled problematic, and in other cases, such issues get swept under the rug in favor of male leadership.
Importantly, the survey reveals that violators are not only found in one generation. Another assumption is that sexual harassers usually target people of lower status in the workplace. The majority of harassers in the Fairygodboss survey are victims' peers, meaning HR will need to make sure everyone undergoes relevant training, not just leadership.
Historically, however, that training has not been very effective. Instead of being a rote yearly update, the emphasis must be on creating a culture of respect and zero tolerance for inappropriate workplace behaviors. A reporting procedure that encourages targets to come forward with complaints, protects their privacy and guarantees no retaliation will occur can help lower the incidences of misconduct.
- FairyGodBoss Sexual Harassment in the Workplace