One in five women say they have been sexually harassed by a superior at work, while one in four report being harassed by another coworker, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Men also report sexual harassment, with 6 percent saying they were harassed by a boss and 14 percent by a coworker.
Yet while overall 13 percent of all workers say they were harassed by a superior and 19 percent report receiving that treatment from another colleague, 70 percent say they didn’t report the harassment to their employers.
There were over 11,000 sexual harassment charges filed against employers in 2011, but that figure is clearly far below the actual number of instances given how few people report the problem.
While many workplaces have anti-harassment policies on the books, some perpetuate a culture that makes harassment more likely. A manager training guide blamed women for unwanted advances and told them to change their clothing, manner of speaking, and body language without mentioning reporting the behavior to an employer. Women at Merrill Lynch say they were told to seduce their way to the top and to be more “perky” and “bubbly.” There are many other examples of employers turning women into sex objects at work.
But harassment can have serious consequences for both workers and employers. It can increase an employee’s time away from work, decrease her productivity, result in job turnover, and increase rates of stress and depression. It then ends up costing employers in reduced productivity and morale, not to mention in legal fees when suits are brought against them.