By Elma Mrkonjić | November 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

27 Alarming Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics

Violence at work is seemingly an abstract issue to most employers, but sexual harassment in the workplace statistics are here to prove us wrong.

Unfortunately, many people aren’t even aware of what sexual harassment is. Ignorance and not taking sexual harassment at work puts all employees at serious risk.

That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to know more about it, whether you’re a victim, witness, employer, or just curious. 

Let’s look at these statistics about sexual harassment in the workplace, where you can find everything you should know about its prevalence, gender difference, the number of reports, and other relevant things. 

Before we start, here are some of the most staggering and eye-opening stats.

Top Workplace Sexual Harassment Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

 

  •  32% of employees didn’t know jokes could be sexual harassment.

  • In 2018, 26% of workers in rural areas reported sexual harassment.

  • Since there are more remote workers in 2020, the rates of sexual harassment complaints rose by 8%

  • One in five complaints about workplace sexual harassment comes from men.

  • The most common form of sexual harassment towards healthcare workers is patients acting in an overly sexual way.  

  • 15% of female educators and 6% of male educators experienced sexual harassment or assault.

  • 53% of survey respondents in France thought the impact of The #MeToo movement was positive.

  • 56% of men think reported sexual harassment goes unpunished.

  • More than 25% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • In the European Union, 75% of women have been sexually harassed at least once in their lifetime.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics - The Previous Years

Sexual harassment at work is nothing new. It’s essential to look at these statistics from 2019, 2018, and a bit earlier, so we can grasp how much the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment and people’s opinion about it have changed over the years.

1. 81% of American employees believed sexual harassment occurred in most workplaces across the US.

(I-sight)

Around 90% of employees believed sexual harassment in the workplace cases didn’t occur in their office. Still, many different studies from several years ago show that many thought sexual harassment was a problem. But the truth is that 87%-94% of such cases went unnoticed. Also, 54% of women experienced unwanted sexual advances according to a poll from October 2017.

2. 50% of Americans stated that men getting away with committing sexual harassment or assault is a significant problem.

(Pew Social Trends)

According to a survey from 2018, 35% of Americans thought men getting away unpunished was a minor problem, while 14% believed sexual assault in the workplace wasn’t a problem at all. Thirty-four percent of Americans stated that accused men being fired without thorough investigation was a significant problem, while 26% thought the opposite.

3. 27% of men and 59% of women experienced harassment at work. 

(Pew Social Trends)

In a poll from October 2017, 54% of women reported experiencing sexual assault. While 30% of them said their colleague harassed them, 23% reported it was their supervisor. More than half of assaulted women reported harassment happened both in and outside the workplace.

4. 32% of employees didn’t know jokes could be a form of sexual harassment.

(True Office Learning)

Workplace harassment statistics from 2019 show that many employees weren’t aware of what could create a toxic working environment. For example, 34% of employees couldn’t identify the forms of behavior that might make for a hostile environment. 

Luckily, these statistics also reveal that 100% of employees knew frequent compliments could be a form of harassment, while 98% recognized the lack of respect for diversity.

5. 46% of men thought people in the US weren’t sensitive enough to the problem of workplace sexual assault.

(Statista)

Gallup’s harassment in the workplace statistics based on a survey from 2019 show that fewer men believed people didn’t take sexual harassment in the workplace seriously enough compared to 2017 when 54% of men thought the same. In 2019, 61% of women stated that people didn’t have enough understanding, while 33% thought people were too sensitive when female sexual harassment is in question.

6. In the US, 26% of workers in rural areas reported sexual harassment in 2018.

(Edison Research) 

It seems like working in rural areas puts employees at a higher risk. According to the statistics about sexual harassment in the workplace from Edisonresearch’s report, the percentage of sexually harassed workers was the biggest in rural areas, compared to 18% in suburban and 21% in urban areas. 

7. Only 25% of women could freely report harassment to their employers.

(Edison Research) 

Women are significantly less likely to believe that their superiors handled the problem well. According to the 2018 report findings, 30% of women in the workforce and 53% of men thought their employers adequately dealt with the incident.

The Current Situation - Worldwide Workplace Harassment Statistics

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics 1

Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace are prevalent worldwide, not just in the US. Many people endure sexual harassment at work for different reasons, and all countries handle this problem differently.

Let’s see how both the US and other countries deal with workplace sexual harassment, what kinds of problems they face, and how the global pandemic has affected its rates.

8. More than 25% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace.

(Fairygodboss)

Female harassment in the workplace is common, but companies don’t seem to protect their employees from sexual harassment. There are many different survey results regarding workplace sexual harassment. For example, EEOC’s study found that more than 85% of women have experienced sexual harassment. The statistics also vary due to the different views on what harassment is.

9. Uruguay is the first country that ratified The ILO Violence and Harassment Convention.

(HRW)

International Labour Organization Violence and Harassment Convention guide governments on preventing sexual violence and protecting employees from detrimental consequences since they are many sexual harassment cases in the workplace worldwide. Uruguay retaliated this convention on June 12, 2020. Other countries that signaled their intention to ratify include Iceland, Argentina, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Namibia, and more. 

10. The rates of sexual harassment complaints have risen in Australia as there are more remote workers.

(ABC)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, more Australian employees have switched to a remote job position. Still, it seems that sexual harassment persists even when a victim doesn’t work on-site. Stats on sexual harassment in the workplace show that women feel more comfortable making a complaint when they work remotely

11. 68% of the LGBT population experienced harassment in the workplace. 

(Personnel Today)

A shockingly high number of the LGBT population have experienced harassment at work, according to a 2019 report from the TUC. Around 43% received sexual comments, while 27% of them received unwelcome verbal sexual advances. LGBT women were considerably more harassed than LGBT men.

12. 55% of Russian survey respondents thought that female sexual harassment in the workplace was overestimated.

(Statista)

One of the worrying workplace harassment statistics from 2020 shows that most Russians don’t think that female sexual harassment in the workplace is a real problem. In a survey conducted in March and published in August 2020, only 25% of respondents thought female sexual harassment in the workplace was a serious thing, and 9% of them stated they didn’t see a problem with that at all.

13. Half of the women who report sexual harassment to their supervisor think their complaint is poorly handled.

(World Bank)

Many statistics of sexual harassment in the workplace reveal that cultural and gender biases are usually why many women don’t report sexual harassment. Even when they do, supervisors typically don’t take them seriously enough. The first step in eradicating sexual harassment and gender bias is adopting specific legislation on sexual harassment.

14. In the European Union, 75% of women have been sexually harassed at least once in their lifetime.

(World Bank)

After The #MeToo movement in 2017, reports on sexual harassment have increased all over the world. For example, according to the sexual harassment workplace statistics from the study named “Women, Business and the Law 2020”, the number of registered sexual harassment cases has increased by 80% since then. Canada’s Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre reported a 100% increase in calls in one year alone.

15. US companies lose up to $6.7 million every year due to sexual harassment.

(FEE)

Employee turnover, absenteeism, and paid or sick leaves cost a company the most because 25% of female victims try to get away from their harassers. Statistics for sexual harassment in the workplace also reveal that those who don’t leave their job become around 10% less productive, and friendly coworkers who know about the situation also experience a 2% decrease in productivity. 

16. 37% of harassed women reported harassment negatively influenced their career advancement.

(AAUW)

When harassment forces women to leave a job early or decrease their working hours, it reduces their wages and their ability to build wealth or save money. The same female harassment in the workplace statistics also tell us that harassed women tend to miss on-the-job training, important meetings, or mentorship to avoid the harasser, contributing to the leadership gap. 

17. Sexual harassment is the most common type of workplace harassment.

(HR Acuity)

Out of the five most common forms of workplace harassment, sexual is the most prevalent. Disability, ageism, racial, and sexual orientation, and gender identity harassment are other common types that certain people need to endure at work.

18. One in five complaints to the EEOC about harassment in the workplace comes from men.

(WM Lawyers)

Male sexual harassment in the workplace has increased by 18% during the past year. Men were also motivated by the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements back in 2017. Not all employers take male sexual harassment seriously, but men are very likely to face retaliation after even complaining about the harassment, such as transferring to a less desirable position, termination, etc.

19. Texas is the US state with the most reports on workplace sexual harassment, with 7,488 cases filed.

(Fisher Phillips)

EEOC’s newest sexual harassment in the workplace stats reveal that after Texas, Florida and Georgia come next, with 5,990 and 4,779 cases. However, not all victims with their attorneys turn to the EEOC for help because many states, such as New York, Washington, and California, have local laws that make dissatisfied employees and their attorneys turn to help elsewhere. That means that these numbers don’t always illustrate the real statistics of workplace sexual harassment per state.

Different Types of Industries and Workplace Sexual Harassment Statistics

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics 2

Some industries are more challenging to work in, especially for women. Women tend to file charges more often than men do in almost every industry. Still, harassment can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or the place they work. Let’s look at some of the statistics regarding sexual harassment in different types of jobs to understand what’s happening in various sectors.

20. In 2019, there were 7,825 reports on sexual assault in the US military.

(Stripes)

Sexual assault in the workplace statistics based on The Defense Department’s report from 2019 indicates a 3% increase in sexual assaults in the military and that even service members were victims. Survivors of sexual abuse who didn’t start an official investigation claimed that the actual percentage was not 3% but 17%, illustrating the lack of trust in the chain of command. 

21. The most common form of sexual harassment towards healthcare workers is patients acting in an overly sexual way. 

(The Guardian)

For healthcare workers, this type of sexual misconduct in the workplace is the most common. About 75% of workplace violence occurs within healthcare, with one in five healthcare workers either a victim or a witness of sexual harassment.

Twenty-nine percent of sexual harassment in this industry included patients asked their doctor on a date; 24% included patients trying to touch, grope, or rub against them. Some patients even asked doctors to meet for sexual intercourse. Six percent of harassment cases had patients sending emails or letters with sexual content or provocative pictures. 

22. 66% of female construction workers experienced some form of sexual harassment. 

(Trent Cotney)

Such sexual harassment at work statistics illustrate that female sexual harassment in the construction industry is a grave issue. This year, ENR surveyed private and public construction workers, with 2,248 respondents from the US, Canada, and overseas. Sixty-six percent of the anonymous respondents reported sexual harassment or gender bias. The sexual harassment they experienced was inappropriate offers, invitations, jokes, threats, and texts.

23. 15% of female educators and 6% of male educators faced sexual harassment or assault.

(Education Dive)

Stats on sexual harassment in the workplace regarding the education industry reveal that around 40% of educators either witnessed or experienced workplace sexual harassment or assault in 2018. Superiors commonly use power differentials between them and early-career teachers.

24. Around 60% of abused educators didn’t file a charge against their harassers.

(Education Dive)

Many employees were hesitant to file a charge precisely because they feared for their career advancement or even safety. Interestingly, 91% of educators reported that they experienced or witnessed far higher sexual harassment rates in other industries.

Other Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Statistics and Facts

Many things happen, and we never get to know about it simply because many stories haven’t been told. Be that as it may, some of them have changed the world, like the famous #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Apart from stories, you can find some other facts and stats related to sexual harassment at work.

25. 53% of French survey respondents thought the impact of The #MeToo movement was positive.

(Statista)

In 2019, Statista published statistics on sexual harassment in the workplace that illustrate the opinion of survey respondents in France about The #MeToo movement. They thought it had a positive impact on women’s ability to speak up about their negative experiences. About 30% of 1,000 respondents thought it had a very positive effect, whereas only 2% thought it negatively influenced women.

26. Over 80 women accused a famous director, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual assault.

(BBC)

The case of Harvey Weinstein is a perfect example of how far sexual abuse in the workplace can get. He was a powerful man, and his assaults date from back in the 90s when he assaulted an actress named Annabella Sciorra. The conviction of this serial sexual predator occurred due to The #MeToo movement when many women were encouraged to speak up about their experiences regarding sexual harassment. 

27. 56% of men think that reported sexual harassment goes unpunished.

(INC)

According to the information from ABC News and Washington Post, more than half of male workers think that reported sexual harassment cases in the workplace go unpunished. According to the women who reported such issues, 95% of men get away unpunished. The reasons for that can be gender bias or the gaps in job positions. Per these career change stats, approximately 23% of harassed women stated the perpetrator influenced their career.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, sexual harassment at work is a severe and ongoing problem. Both men and women experience it, and it’s hard to determine the true prevalence of sexual assault due to the lack of reporting the harasser.

Workplace harassment statistics can give us an insight into what’s happening in almost every industry. However, many incidents aren’t reported, so we can’t know the clear picture of workplace sexual harassment.

Not only does sexual harassment hurt the victim’s careers and mental health, but it also costs companies significantly. Sexual harassment is frequently the reason for absenteeism, employee turnover, and decreased productivity. 

As the numbers of reports regarding sexual harassment at work increase, we can only hope that people in the future will have more awareness and respect towards their colleagues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Workplace sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate jokes, comments, requests, or other sexual conduct by anyone hired by the same employer. Some examples of sexually harassing behavior are staring or leering, touching, unnecessary familiarity, intrusive questions about a victim’s body, etc. 

Sexually hostile workplace culture also corresponds to unlawful sexual harassment. Such working environments allow offensive jokes, display of pornographic materials, sexual banter, and the like. Even employers could be held responsible if something like this happens in the workplace, not just offenders.

After you determine that something that happened was harassing, let that person know that you take issue with their behavior. If they don’t stop or if you’re afraid that saying something might negatively affect your career, you should share your feelings with your organization by following its procedures for reporting sexual harassment. They’re available on its website or in your employee handbook. In any case, you’ll have to talk to the manager or HR. 

Never wait for too long, because the law allows reporting 180 days after the incident. Write a formal letter about the incident and hire an attorney if you experience retaliation.

Approximately five million people experience sexual harassment at work each year, while only 9,200 files a charge against their offender with the EEOC or state Fair Employment Practices Agencies. This means that 99.8% of victims never file a charge. 

The reason for this is the fear of retaliation, decreased career advancement opportunities, losing a job, their issue not being handled well by their employer, and many more. Luckily, the EEOC finds a majority of workplace sexual harassment charges legally actionable.

After the #MeToo movement from 2017, more organizations take victims’ complaints more seriously, which affected the decrease in all kinds of sexual harassment. For instance, unwanted sexual attention has declined from 66% to 23%, while sexual coercion has dropped from 25% to 16%. 

However, although the rates of sexual harassment have declined, women seem to experience backlash after the movement. The percentage of female gender harassment increased from 76% in 2017 to 96% in 2018. Another good thing that has changed is that women have higher self-esteem and lower self-doubt than before.

According to the latest EEOC statistics, Texas is undoubtedly the state with the most reports on workplace sexual harassment, with 7,488 cases filed. Florida comes next, with 5,990 filed cases, and Georgia is in third place, with 4,779 cases. However, these are the states that EEOC claims are the most common instead of other enforcement mechanisms. Still, many states, including New York, Washington, and California, have such local laws that lead employees and their attorneys to turn to other means besides the EEOC. Therefore, these sexual harassment in the workplace statistics by the state may not be accurate.

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