Employees Say They Remain Afraid to Report Harassment

(Bloomberg) -- At a moment when public attention to sexual harassment is at an all-time high, most workers say they’re still afraid to report misconduct because they fear retaliation or inaction.

According to a survey of human resource professionals and their employees released Thursday, 11 percent of workers said they experienced harassment in the last year. Among them, three out of four didn’t report it to their managers. The most common form of harassment was verbal, including sexual comments and unwanted advances.

“It appears that employees don’t feel that they have the power to bring allegations forward in a way that won’t harm them,” said Evren Esen, director of workforce analytics for the Society for Human Resources Management, which conducted the study.

The survey also revealed how differently managers and their employees see their workplaces. A majority of executives said they considered harassment rare at their companies, compared to only 35 percent of non-management employees who shared that view. And while 94 percent of companies said they have anti-harassment policies, only 78 percent of employees knew they existed.

Among human resources professionals, 36 percent said they had received at least one report of sexual harassment in the last year. About the same proportion said they’d seen an increase over that time period. About a third or the organizations have made changes to sexual harassment training in the past year, according to the study.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.