Sexual harassment has been in the news almost daily as of late, due to what seems like a ceaseless array of allegations coming out of Hollywood and the “Me Too” movement gaining force.
More than ever, people are starting to realize that sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t just a woman’s problem. It isn’t even just the problem of the victims who’ve suffered actual harassment. It’s a problem for everyone in the workplace, even you.
Sexual harassment costs more than money
Sexual harassment can cost a company a significant amount in legal fees and payments — whether they pay a victim to keep quiet about a powerful person’s actions or pay to defend a harassment suit in court.
However, it can also cost a company or brand dearly when it comes to its image. When allegations become public, the entire company can suffer economic losses through boycotts and other backlash.
Sexual harassment also naturally affects the productivity of the victims because they have to put their energies into defending themselves against the predatory harassers. The harassers can’t be giving the company their best if they’re engaging in sexual behavior at work. Co-workers of both are likely distracted, their focus shifted away from work and onto the drama playing out in the office.
Even if you’re merely a bystander to whatever happens, you can find your own career in danger if details of the sexual harassment become suddenly public. Depending on your position, you could find yourself having to defend your choice to remain silent in the face of what was occurring.
Speak up and help put a stop to sexual harassment
What can you do if you’re neither the sexual harasser nor the victim to change what is happening?
You can report it. If you see sexual harassment happening around you, file a complaint with your supervisor or human resources. You can also, if you’re comfortable doing so, speak up as it happens and let the harasser know that he or she is out of line.
Essentially, when everyone who isn’t a sexual harasser starts to take a stand and call the harassers out on their behavior, it will finally become too costly for the harassers to continue. Until then, everyone who remains silent helps reinforce the idea that they can get away with what they are doing.