Weighing Workplace-Harassment Worries

There are stark differences in how concerned Americans are about workplace sexual harassment.
By: | April 9, 2018 • 2 min read
Topics: HR Leadership

According to a new survey, Americans are more concerned about male workers getting away with sexual harassment in the workplace than they are about false accusations against men—though that finding does not hold true across gender and party lines.

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The findings were revealed in a national survey by Pew Research Center, which sought to take the temperature of American workers toward workplace sexual harassment as the #MeToo movement wages on.

Overall, 50 percent of respondents said that men getting away with sexual harassment or assault at work is a major problem, while 35 percent saw it as a minor problem and 14 percent believe it’s not a problem at all. Additionally, about 46 percent said women not being believed about such instances is a significant issue.

About 34 percent of workers said employers firing men who are accused of such acts before getting all the facts is a major problem, while 31 percent saw women falsely claiming to be victims as a serious problem.

However, there are significant differences when the numbers are broken down by demographics. For instance, only 33 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning workers said men getting away with sexual harassment and assault is a major problem, compared to 62 percent of Democrat and Democratic-leaning individuals. Those numbers are even starker when gender is factored in: Just 28 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning men are concerned about sexual harassment, compared to 66 percent of Democrat and Democratic-leaning women.

How do these differences affect the workplace? For one thing, it could be impacting how workers communicate.

According to the survey, 51 percent of participants said the recent shift has made it harder for male workers to interact with their female colleagues—a number that was higher among men (55 percent) than women (47 percent). Partisan divides were also evident again: 68 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning men expressed concern, compared to 45 percent of Democrat and Democratic-leaning men. Additionally, the older the worker was, the more likely he or she was to express hesitance about navigating interaction among men and women in the workplace.

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