- Although overall reported sexual harassment complaints are down, African-American women have experienced an increased risk of sexual harassment, according to a new study published in the scholarly journal Gender, Work & Organization. The analysis is based on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data from 1997 to 2016.
- Researchers observed a link between sexual harassment of women in the workplace and the unemployment rate — a higher unemployment rate in one month was followed by an increase in the number of reported harassment cases the following month. The link indicates that men are more likely to engage in harassing behavior when they feel that their economic position is threatened, researchers said.
- "Over the past 20 years, we've made great strides in reducing sexual harassment in the workplace, but those benefits have all gone to white women, and mostly to young white women," co-author Dan Cassino said in a news statement released by Wiley, the research organization that publishes the journal. "It seems as though men have gotten more careful about who they're harassing and have been targeting women of color, who may be less likely to report the harassment."
Training is important in developing a more professional workplace and empowering employees and bystanders to report inappropriate behavior. Gaps in training, particularly at the management level, can do more to exacerbate than resolve the problem. Experts continue to tell stakeholders that front-line managers and supervisors are responsible for a large number of discrimination and retaliation violations. Compliance training is a good first step, and it should be ongoing and ingrained in company culture, experts have told HR Dive. However, training has to happen within a work culture that supports the messaging in order to be successful
Some employers are going beyond compliance training and working to address implicit biases. Some research suggests unconscious bias training can be successful, especially if it's offered in a non-judgmental way: When employees accept that everyone has biases, they can be more willing to examine their own.
In addition to training and addressing bias, a robust reporting system is beneficial. Large employers also can put into place multiple avenues for reporting and a system of checks and balances for handling discrimination and harassment claims.
An increasing number of states and localities are adopting mandatory sexual harassment training laws, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New York State, and New York City.