According to the latest research, 52 percent of women report experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace today. For organizations with no concrete strategy for addressing harassment, the negative impact on business operations could be dramatic.
It is difficult for anyone to thrive in a hostile work environment. Where harassment is pervasive within the culture, employees who were previously positive and outgoing may begin to withdraw. Victims may not speak up about the harassment for fear of retribution, but as rumors spread and nothing happens to offenders, overall morale starts to decline.
When an employee continuously calls out or avoids meetings to escape harassment, other team members are often left to pick up the slack. Valuable and productive personnel can become stretched too thin, causing resentment and discontentment at work. This forces good employees to look for better opportunities elsewhere, leading to a high rate of turnover which can devastate business operations.
No one wants to work for a company that does not value its workers. Moreover, as more victims of sexual harassment take their cases to court, the publicity of a harassment lawsuit can greatly impact an organization’s reputation with consumers. If a company can endure the financial strain of going to trial, it may not survive the public scrutiny.
It’s important to note that many employers take sexual harassment allegations within the workplace very seriously – and take substantial action to stop the behavior. However, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Employers who opt to ignore harassment claims or try to sweep them under the rug does not make them simply disappear. Fortunately, workers enduring threatening environments have legal options.