Not surprisingly, sexual harassment is more likely among a homogenous, male-centered workforce, says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s 2016 Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.1 This is especially true when it comes to manual labor jobs where women make up less than a quarter of the total workforce or less (only 2.6 percent in construction).2,3
The EEOC saw more than 18,700 total cases of sexual harassment reported in the male-dominated manufacturing, construction, transportation and agriculture-related industries between 1995 and 2016. The EEOC says these numbers are a small percentage of actual harassment incidents, though. The Commission estimates as many as 75 percent more incidents go unreported, across these industries each year.2
Women working in male-dominated industries are often afraid to speak up and voice their concerns when inappropriate comments or propositions come their way. This is further complicated by the fact that their jobs are very physically demanding, and management positions in manual labor companies are almost exclusively held by men.
According to the EEOC study, when employees were asked in randomly sampled surveys whether they had experienced sexual harassment at work, 25 percent answered affirmatively. That number rose to 40 percent when the employee was asked whether they had experienced “unwelcome sexually based behaviors.”
Regardless of the industry segment, sexual harassment is a growing issue:
- Women file the majority of claims. As many as 83 percent of claims are filed by women; men 15 percent; 2 percent don’t specify gender.
- Sexual harassment is more common than you think. When employees were asked if they’d experienced sexual harassment at work, 25 percent answered affirmatively. That number rose to 40 percent when asked if they experienced “unwelcome sexually-based behaviors.”
- Employers don’t change, so harassment continues. Employers are largely inclined to focus only on avoiding legal liability, rather than actually changing their corporate culture/environment.
- Most don’t report the harassment they experience. The EEOC estimates that as many as 75 percent of all workplace sexual harassment still go unreported.
- Sexual harassment has an effect on everyone. Regardless of whether the inappropriate harassment experienced was unlawful or not, it still has an impact on all those that experienced it.
Contact your HUB risk services advisor to learn about risk management strategies that create a healthy workplace and encourage positive behavior, and coverage that protects employees and leadership.
3 BuzzFeed News. https://www.buzzfeed.com/lamvo/eeoc-sexual-harassment-data?utm_term=.qo8Ya8Xwj#.uh3np6lqj