A Visual Reminder of What Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (Still) Looks Like

We’ve discussed sexual harassment a lot on this blog. My last post was on the hacked photos of Jennifer Lawrence, a public event that easily qualifies as sexual harassment. In the past I’ve discussed other forms of internet harassment, as well as the problem of sexual harassment in the work environment of female RCMP officers. Evan also touched on this issue in his article about how it’s being combatted at conventions, while Gordon recently wrote on the“Yes Means Yes” Bill meant to address sexual harassment on college campuses.

Obviously it’s an issue we all consider very important. That’s why it was so cool when we were recently contacted by a woman whose colleague had been doing research in the area of sexual harassment, specifically harassment in the workplace. She also offered us this infographic, the result of said research, to share with our readers. I hope you all will appreciate it as much as we do.

Courtesy of Frank Nicholas. Click the image itself to link to their site and a full article accompanying the infographic.

Many of the details graphed out on the image above may be things we would have guessed or suspected, but seeing the actual numbers are still surprising. So, what can we learn from this graph (and the accompanying information)?

1. If You Have Experienced Sexual Harassment, You are Not Alone

First and foremost among, this infograph highlights how sexual harassment is still common in the workplace (as much as we’d like to think it isn’t).

2. Identifying Harassment Can be Confusing

One of the less clear forms of harassment mentioned on the infograph above is “comment[ing] on physical appearance”. It’s very easy to identify sexual harassment when it comes in the more obvious forms of inappropriate touch or groping. Unfortunately, there are times when a victim may feel uncomfortable with what an employer or co-worker has said to them, but is unsure whether their situation involves a misunderstanding or willful harassment. As a victim, this can be very confusing. One thing I appreciated about the accompanying article was the way it gave readers a very cut and dried way to address this kind of situation.

In order to differentiate between a compliment on your new hair-do and an incident of sexual harassment you must know two key factors:

1)  That the language or behavior used causes you to feel offended, demeaned or compromised in some way.

2)  That the behavior does not stop when you make your objections known to the offender and tell him/her to stop

By including the second qualifier, this article helps victims know what steps to take in order to seek support at work. Misunderstandings can happen. If the offender still refuses to change their behaviour after being confronted, the victim can be sure that their behaviour legally qualifies as harassment.

3. Even in Cultures with High Rates of Gender Equality, Women in Leadership Still Experience Persecution

In North America, we now have more women in positions of leadership than ever before.

Although in many areas the numbers are climbing very slowly.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that the battle for equal rights hasn’t yet been won. For me, the most surprising statement on the Frank Nicholas infograph was that female supervisors are “138% more likely to be sexually harassed at work when compared with women who did not hold supervisory roles.” This statistic highlights how difficult it still can be for women to hold leadership positions. In the past I’ve dismissed movement, like “bad bossy”, that emphasize the idea that women are still discouraged from leadership. In light of this infograph however, I’m beginning to think I was too quick to dismiss something that is still a very legitimate problem.

4. When Dealing with Harassment, There is Help Available 

I was so happy to see the Frank Nicholas’s article focus on sexual harassment and the law. So often here on the blog we discuss issues that we are powerless to stop. It’s nice to be reminded that when it comes to sexual harassment you don’t have to feel powerless:

Because of the potential damages to employees and employers alike, laws have been drafted to protect women against sexual harassment. Of equal importance, because a woman must feel safe in seeking help for such abuse, there are also laws which punish those who fail to protect whistleblowers or who actually punish her for her efforts to protect other females.

Thankfully, there is now a hefty price to be paid by companies that allow sexual harassment to go unchecked. By exercising her legal rights when and if she is violated in the workplace, each victim makes it more difficult for these crimes to continue.

Thanks again Alice and the Frank Nicholas firm for sharing your research with us. It’s encouraging to be reminded of that finding an advocate can sometimes just be a click away.

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