The effects of the “me too” movement will be felt even more intensely this year, with seven out of 10 surveyed human resources professionals expecting sexual harassment complaints at their workplaces to rise in 2018, according to a poll of more than 200 U.S. HR professionals by the HR Certification Institute.
But there is the potential for positive change as a result. Nearly 80 percent of surveyed HR professionals said sexual harassment prevention training will be a “high priority” or “essential,” compared with 40 percent who said the same prior to the beginning of the “me too” movement last year. Eighty-four percent said how sexual harassment complaints are handled will be a “high priority” or “essential,” compared with 65 percent the previous year.
“Recent allegations and the ‘me too’ movement have raised awareness and, more importantly, triggered action to stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace,” said HRCI CEO Amy Dufrane. “Greater awareness is likely to mean an increase in the number of reported cases over the short term. Long term, organizations are placing more emphasis on prevention and, hopefully, the eradication of sexual harassment from the workplace. Everyone, including employers and coworkers who witness unwanted behaviors, must step up to the challenge.”
Sixty-three percent of surveyed HR professionals said sexual harassment “occasionally” or “sometimes” occurred in their workplaces, and 30 percent said harassment “frequently” occurred. Only 7 percent said harassment “almost never” or “never” occurred. Nearly all of the surveyed HR professionals said sexual harassment complaints are “difficult” or “very difficult” to deal with.