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SHRM Survey: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Is Under-Reported

Most incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace still go unreported, according to a 2018 survey by the Society for Human Resources Research (SHRM).

Among the HR professionals surveyed, 36 percent reported at least one allegation of sexual harassment occurring in their organizations within the past year. Of those, more than one-third (36 percent) reported an increase in incidents reported in the past year.

Among non-management employees, 11 percent reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment in the past 12 months. Of those, 76 percent said they chose not to report the incident, citing reasons such as fear of retaliation or a belief that nothing would change.

The survey indicates that verbal harassment, including “unwanted sexual advances through words and comments,” was the most common form of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Some Employees Unaware That Policies Exist

Ninety-four percent of the HR professionals surveyed reported that their companies have policies in place for preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. However, 22 percent of non-management employees indicated they were uncertain whether those policies existed at their organizations. The research suggests that at some organizations, anti-harassment policies are presented as part of new-hire orientation and revisited only during annual or biannual training, if then.

While many organizations may believe they are doing enough by having anti-harassment policies and conducting annual training, these survey results indicate more needs to be done if sexual harassment in the workplace is to be prevented.

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