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Attitudes toward sexual harassment over the decades

Although 98 percent of businesses have policies in place against sexual harassment and more than two-thirds of companies provide training aimed at recognizing and discouraging this behavior, there is evidence that the problem has not significantly improved over the decades. In 1980, the Harvard Business Review conducted a survey about sexual harassment among its subscribers. California workers and those throughout the country may be interested in learning that the study found that two times as many men as women considered the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace to be overblown.

At the time of the survey, women were more likely to think that men should be formally reprimanded for sexual harassment. The female respondents also tended to predict that men would approve of or fail to prevent sexual harassment that they observed in greater numbers than the men actually did.

In 1980, fewer than a third of the companies surveyed had implemented sexual harassment policies, and a mere 8 percent had training materials such as films and manuals on the topic. However, a 2016 study found that the increase in policies and training in the workplace did not necessarily increase workers’ comfort. Instead, many said that these measures created fear instead of respect. Contemporary research also shows that while around 33 percent of women have experienced harassment, fewer than 16 percent of them go on to lodge complaints at their companies.

A lot of people who have been sexually harassed at work are afraid to speak up over a fear of being fired or another form of retaliation. Others worry that they will get a reputation for being difficult. Someone who has experienced sexual harassment at his or her job could benefit from speaking with an attorney. Discussing the situation with a lawyer might help someone better understand his or her rights and formulate the best strategy for dealing with the harassment. For example, the victim might still want to initiate the process by going through the reporting system at his or her workplace.