We need to take sex harassment seriously. That is not exactly a bold statement, we know; but the fact is that while lip service is paid to the issue at the highest levels, it remains a significant problem.
No doubt some older eyes rolled at the recent report from the University of New Hampshire on statistics it has gathered on sexual harassment in the workplace. And while it is true that harassment can be defined in many ways, the figures were still substantial.
The information: an estimated 52 percent of women and 22 percent of men in New Hampshire say they have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
A Granite State Poll of 989 people found that four in 10 women workers report being looked at in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. A third reported coworkers have made offensive remarks about their appearance or sexual activities and 24 percent said they were touched inappropriately or that someone exposed themselves to them at work.
Fourteen percent of women in the poll said they were threatened with retaliation for not being sexually cooperative or it was implied they would be offered promotions at work for sexual compliance.
There were problems for men as well. Thirteen percent said they have been subjected to offensive remarks about their body or sexual activities; 11 percent report sexist materials being displayed, used or distributed at work.
The data were collected last year by the Carsey School of Public Policy and the Prevention Innovations Research Center at UNH.
This isn’t troubling just for the employees. Employers can and do lose workers because of it.
In a time when workers are hard to find, this is really counterproductive.
Kristin Smith said it best. She is a family demographer at Carsey School of Public Policy and a research associate professor of sociology at UNH.
“I think that this really should be a wake-up call for employers,” Smith said. “We hope this research will open a dialogue in the state, given one-fifth of workers quit their jobs after their most recent experience with sexual harassment at work.”