Factsheet: Creating Workplace Cultures of Respect – The Business Case

Employee Morale

  • Analysis of data from the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) found that men and women who have experienced workplace sexual harassment are more likely to report that they are unhappy with their current job, (14.8 percentage and 11.3 percentage points, respectively). [1]
  • Coworkers who witness sexual harassment were more likely to have poorer psychological and physical well-being. [2]

Safety

  • Sexual assault accounted for 2.3% of all nonfatal violence in the workplace between 2005 and 2009. [3]
  • One study of employed women found that 38% had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. [4]

Productivity

  • Individuals who experience workplace harassment were 1.7 times more likely to have taken at least two weeks of leave in the previous year. [5]
  • One study estimated that teams who experienced workplace harassment lost an average cost of $22,500 per employee in productivity a year. [6]

Job Satisfaction and Turnover

  • Additional analysis from the 2002 GSS found that men who reported experiencing sexual harassment were 80% more likely to leave their current job. [7]
  • A study of participants of the Youth Development Study found that compared to women who have not reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, those who did were 6.5 times more likely to leave their jobs. [8]

Public Image

  • Workplace sexual harassment negatively impacts brand image and interest from prospective employees. [9]

Profits

  • In fiscal year 2018, sexual harassment charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cost businesses and harassers $56.6 million, which excludes monetary damages awarded through litigation. [10]
  • Employee turnover represents the largest economic cost of sexual harassment, higher than costs related to litigation. [11]

[1] Antecol, H., Barcus, V. E., & Cobb-Clark, D. (2009). Gender-biased behavior at work: Exploring the relationship between sexual harassment and sex discrimination. Journal of Economic Psychology, 30(5), 782-792.

[2] Miner-Rubino, K., & Cortina, L. M. (2007). Beyond targets: Consequences of vicarious exposure to misogyny at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(5), 1254-126.

[3] Harrell, E. (2011). Workplace violence, 1993-2009: National Crime Victimization Survey and the census of fatal occupational injuries (NCJ 233231). Retrieved from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/wv09.pdf.

[4] Potter, S. & Banyard, V. (2011). The Victimization Experiences of Women in the Workforce: Moving Beyond Single Categories of Work or Violence. Violence and victims. 26. 513-32.

[5] Khubchandani, Jagdish and James H. Price. 2015. “Workplace Harassment and Morbidity Among US Adults: Results from the National Health Interview Survey” Journal of Community Health 40(3): 555-563.

[6] Willness, C., Steel, P. & Lee, K. 2007. “A Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents and Consequences of Workplace Sexual Harassment.” Personnel Psychology 60(1): 127–62.

[7] Antecol, H., Barcus, V. E., & Cobb-Clark, D. (2009). Gender-biased behavior at work: Exploring the relationship between sexual harassment and sex discrimination. Journal of Economic Psychology, 30(5), 782-792.

[8] McLaughlin, H., Uggen, C. & Blackstone, A. 2017. “The Economic and Career Effects of Sexual Harassment on Working Women.” Gender & Society 31(3): 333–58.

[9] Sierra, Jeremy & Compton, Nina & Frias-Gutierrez, Kellilynn. (2008). Brand Response-Effects of Perceived Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Journal of Business and Management. 14. 175-197.

[10] Charges Alleging Sex-Based Harassment (Charges filed with EEOC) FY 2010 – FY 2018. https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/sexual_harassment_new.cfm.

[11] Merkin, R. S., & Shah, M.K. 2014. “The Impact of Sexual Harassment on Job Satisfaction, Turnover Intentions, and Absenteeism: Findings from Pakistan Compared to the United States.” SpringerPlus.