Sexual Harassment in Your Workplace Comes In Multiple Forms - And How To Prevent It

Sexual harassment has no place anywhere—especially in a professional setting like work. Loss of productivity, lowered morale, and employee turnovers are some of its devastating aftermaths, and knowing its forms is the first step to eliminating workplace harassment.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOCC) defines sexual harassment in the workplace as unwelcomed sexual advances, verbal or nonverbal acts that are sexual in nature, or requests for sexual favors that may affect a person's employment. Below are the two types of sexual harassment recognized by federal law:

Quid Pro Quo

In a quid pro quo scenario, there is explicit or implicit leverage of sexual favors that may benefit or threaten the subordinate’s employment. This type of sexual intimidation happens between an authority or person in power who may influence the promotion, pay raise, retention, and even hiring of another person.

Hostile Work Environment

Sexual advances can create conditions that result in a hostile work environment. A victim, in this case, experiences harassment so severe and persistent that it results in an abusive and hostile place of work. Harassment in this category usually compounds from a series of incidents and can be perpetrated by both supervisors and coworkers.

A 2019 study showed that:

  • 1 in 10 New Yorkers, or 1.7 million people statewide, reported experiencing quid pro quo harassment
  • Another 1.7 million reported experiencing an “uncomfortable or hostile work environment” due to unwanted sexual advances
  • People of color (POC) and people of Hispanic origin are more likely to experience quid pro quo harassment than their non-Hispanic white counterparts

While the study is limited to the State of New York, the findings highlight a pressing issue on the prevalence of workplace harassment. This is exacerbated by the findings of another study about Employer’s Response to Sexual Harassment that showed:

  • 99.8% of people who experience sexual harassment at work never file charges
  • 68% of sexual charges alleged employee retaliation and is highest for Black women
  • 64% of the charges resulted in job loss and is highest for White women and men

All these sexual grievances negatively affect employees and businesses.

Impacts of Workplace Harassment on Employees

Impairing an employee’s sexual safety has a multitude of harmful outcomes for the worker and the company:

  1. Workplace sexual harassment puts people at risk of developing a range of mental health issues. These may include anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Consequently, these issues may result in long-term sickness, absenteeism, and poor performance.
  2. Employees are forced to quit jobs, abandon their careers, or stagnate at work. Victims of sexual harassment either quit to avoid their harassers or in response to their employer’s lack of action to their complaints. This leads to financial and career setbacks due to the resources needed to cover while job hunting, possible position downgrade, or complete career abandonment.
  3. Companies shell out thousands to millions in legal fees. It’s no secret that an official or employee's sexual misconduct costs hefty fines. This is on top of the likelihood of hiring, training, and retaining a new employee in place.
  4. Workers are less productive. Having to deal with a harasser at work is bound to affect employee performance. Companies are spending millions on employee turnover, absenteeism, and recruitment due to sexual harassment instead of spending on workplace improvements.

What Employers Can Do About It

Forcing traditional anti-sexual harassment training on your employees is counterproductive, costly, and ineffective to say the least. Educating employees using the usual PowerPoint presentations is the quickest way to disengage your workforce from enacting change. But there’s a solution; Common Ground Business, our next-level anti-harassment training program that’s engrossing, informative, and compliant with legal requirements across 50 states.

Common Ground Business 2 allows users to step into the shoes of others and make important decisions so they can experience the outcomes for themselves- creating the optimal learning environment.

If you’d like to try the single best sexual harassment program on the market for yourself, click here for a free demo.