Since the #MeToo movement began a year ago, one-third of executives surveyed say they have altered their actions to avoid behaviors that could be perceived as sexual harassment.
This according to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. Changes in behavior came from executives witnessing how sexual harassment affects staff and the bottom line.
They rate the biggest impacts of unchecked harassment as: decreased morale (cited by 23%), decreased engagement (23%), decreased productivity (18%), increased hostile work environment (15%), and increased turnover (13%).
Although 72% of employees said they were satisfied with their company’s efforts to stop sexual harassment, more than one-third still believe their workplace fosters harassment.
“The fact that some workplace cultures still foster sexual harassment says there is more work to be done,” says SHRM President Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.
“We need a rules-plus approach – organizations need policies and training, but it is the education piece that creates culture change,” he argues. When you have employees who know how to define, identify and report sexual harassment, everyone can work together to root out sexual harassment in the workplace.
“As a cultural change metric in such a short time, having a third of executives report changed behavior is significant,” Taylor notes. “Yet, we can’t let the pendulum swing too far. Organizations must be careful not to create a culture of ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and we cannot tolerate other unintended consequences.
Unintended negative consequences have risen from the new awareness, Taylor says. “One troubling trend is executives going as far as to not invite female colleagues on business trips, to evening networking events or into their inner circles to avoid any situation that could be perceived incorrectly, thus reducing the opportunity for women.”