Survey finds workplace complaints rose in wake of #MeToo
- Harassment, discrimination and other misconduct claims are up, a new Proskauer survey showed. The law firm polled more than "50 high-level legal decision makers responsible for employment issues" for a better understanding of how their organizations respond to misconduct claims.
- According to the survey, 42% of respondents reported an increase in harassment claims; 23% cited a rise in discrimination complaints; and 35% reported an increase in workplace complaints about other misconduct, such as retaliation. Proskauer said that following the emergence of the #MeToo movement, organizations are confronted with three challenges: keeping up to date with the spread of new state and local laws; developing harassment training in the #MeToo era; and finding the right resources to lean on when facing complaints.
- Based on the survey results, Proskauer recommended five best practices for responding to claims and alleviating misconduct: getting leadership buy-in to addressing claims; elevating the value of training; promoting anti-misconduct policies; optimizing the use of external counsel; and monitoring emerging trends.
HR has a responsibility to investigate claims pointing to possible violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. How workplaces respond to alleged race, sex, age or disability discrimination; claims of sexual harassment; reports of retaliation and other forms of unlawful misconduct may help drive down the number of complaints.
In a December 2018 Fairygodboss study, 57% of women polled said that nothing changed in the workplace for them following the #MeToo movement's emergence. This could in part stem from inaction from some employers and an inability to adopt a more effective harassment reporting and investigation process, a study from the American Physiological Association found. Without witnessing successful investigations and a positive change in the work environment, employees may be unable to trust their employers to follow up on complaints and take their concerns seriously.
Other employers have responded to sexual harassment training mandates to curtail the proliferation of abuse post-#MeToo. Some leaders have acted to curb sexual misconduct in the workplace through written commitments. For example, Kristina Bergman, CEO and co-founder of Integris Software, pressured investors in her startup to sign an agreement to remove board directors if there was "reasonable probability" that they're involved in misconduct. According to a report by Marsh & McLennan Companies, corporate boards are stepping up to address dysfunctional cultures — recognizing that leaders in their position are often progenitors of misconduct.