The Shocking Data Behind Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Workplace
Who experiences sexual misconduct? In which industries? How often is it reported? A new survey has answers.
Sexual misconduct haunts the corporate world. It’s in the headlines every week, and corporate boards, executives, and rank-and-file employees have begun to realize that it’s a problem they need to fight. But before we can effectively fight the problem, we need to map out — in concrete detail — its scope and span. Here are some of the specific questions about sexual misconduct in the workplace that anyone concerned — whether in leadership or the ranks — needs to be able to answer, to protect themselves and their organizations:
- How common is sexual misconduct in the workplace?
- How often is it harassment, and how often assault?
- Who are the predators?
- Who are the prey?
- Are certain ethnic groups or LGBTQ individuals especially at risk?
- How closely related is sexual misconduct to seniority and abuse of power?
- How often are harassment and assault reported — and how often ignored?
- How does it impact employee engagement and flight risk — including for bystanders?
- Are consensual sexual relationships in the workplace a problem, too?
- How does workplace sexual misconduct impact women’s professional opportunities?
- In what sectors and industries is the problem most severe?
To find out the answers, in 2018 the Center for Talent Innovation, a New York-based think tank that I founded, fielded a nationally representative survey of 3,213 college-educated employees between the ages of 21 and 65 currently working in full-time white-collar jobs.
Some of the results are surprising.
Harassment vs. Assault
Neither is ever acceptable, but there is a difference between sexual harassment (unwanted sexual advances) and assault (unwanted sexual contact). Both terms are broad. Harassment may include anything from inappropriate e-mails to stalking, while assault…