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Has the #MeToo movement reduced workplace sexual harassment?

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2022 | Employment Law |

According to a study done by the Harvard Business Review, the #MeToo movement appears to have improved the lot of women in the workplace, at least in some ways.

Based on the study’s sample, fewer women were expecting sexual pressure or unwelcome flirting and other romantic attention while at work.

In 2016, 2 out of 3 women asked said they had been targets of unwanted romantic advances or other harassing behavior, such as lewd or inappropriate comments or jokes. By 2018, in the wake of #MeToo, the number had decreased to 1 out of 4 women.

Women who reported sexual coercion also declined in the same period of time, from 25% to 16%.

Overall, women’s esteem and confidence in the workplace improved, according to the survey.

But not all of the results of the survey were good news. In 2018, over 90% of women asked reported general harassment because of their gender. In 2016, only over 75% of women reported this experience.

It seems that while inappropriate sexual behavior has declined, overall hostility toward women in the workplace has not.

Employees expect their companies to protect them

The authors of the article suggested that employers would need to stay vigilant with respect when it comes to preventing sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Specifically, employers need a strong policy against all discriminatory conduct. Employers also must take all complaints seriously and take actions against all perpetrators.

Workers who have been victims of discrimination or sexual harassment in most cases should follow any internal procedures that their employers offer for handling complaints. In the best case, reporting will get immediate results.

Unfortunately, doing so too often leads nowhere. In these situations, a victim may have the option to pursue their employer legally. Victims can claim damages for emotional distress and other economic and non-economic losses.