90% of individuals who say they have experienced sexual harassment never take formal action against the harassment. Most stay quiet for fear of disbelief or inaction on their claim, or worse, retaliation - professionally or socially. Fear is not unfounded, as some studies found that 75 percent of those who spoke up experienced some form of retaliation, which is illegal.
Harassment behavior, mainly by men targeting women, continues unchallenged. But recently, more women and men are speaking out against the daily and aggression they experience.
The #MeToo social media campaign and the growing list of sexual harassment allegations against powerful men in industry, politics and media highlights the pervasive nature of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Women are often quietly expected, or forced, to endure unwanted and offensive behavior, have sex or be raped in the workplace. This has been an unstated requirement to get an interview, keep a job or be promoted.
122 countries have passed laws against ‘sexual harassment’ in the workplace since the term was coined in 1975. 68 countries have not, leaving 235 million women working in there without legal recourse. Even in countries that do have laws in place like the United States, harassment and rape culture is pervasive. Although the United States has laws to deal with this issue, the system continuously fails men and women who are sexually harassed and assaulted in the workplace.
Companies usually approach these laws from a perspective that ensures legal compliance and confidentiality rather than a correction of institutional and employee behavior.
In 2016, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a provocative report on harassment in the workplace and concluded the system is failing.
The business case for companies to effectively tackle sexual harassment is clear - through the EEOC’s administrative enforcement pre-litigation process alone, employers have paid nearly $700 million to employees alleging harassment in 2010 - 2015.
It’s past time that companies are held accountable to ending sexual harassment and rape culture in the workplace, rather than being concerned only with legal compliance and confidentiality. This requires everyone in the workplace, including co-workers, supervisors, clients and customers, to help end harassment.
Equality Now stands in support of the thousands of women who are speaking out about their sexual harassment. Please join us in calling on the EEOC to promote corporate transparency in sexual harassment cases, and enforce the right to be free from harassment at the workplace.
It’s On Us
The It's On Us campaign to Protect Students from Sexual Assault on colleges and high school campuses is based on the need to change the cultures of educational institutions. The It's On Us campaign calls upon everyone to do his or her part to be a part of the solution based on the premise that sexual assault is not just about a victim and a perpetrator.
The EEOC recommended the launch of an It’s on Us campaign in workplaces across the country to change workplace cultures, and to provide everyone in the workplace with the tools and resources to prevent sexual harassment/assault as engaged bystanders. However, more than a year later, this recommendation has not been implemented.
Please join Equality Now in standing with all who have experienced sexual harassment or rape in the workplace by calling upon the EEOC to implement the recommendations in their report and launch the It’s On Us campaign to end Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.
Click here to call on Victoria A. Lipnic, Acting Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to implement recommendations by the EEOC and take decisive steps to change the toxic workplace culture which fails to adequately prevent and deal with instances of sexual harassment.
About Equality Now:
Equality Now is an international human rights organization that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world by combining grassroots activism with international, regional and national legal advocacy. Our international network of lawyers, activists, and supporters achieve legal and systemic change by holding governments responsible for enacting and enforcing laws and policies that end legal inequality, sexual trafficking, sexual violence, and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage.