7 Statistics You Need to Know About Workplace Harassment

by Oct 10, 2019

As a small business owner and poster child (no seriously, I am literally on a poster) for Hiscox Business Insurance, I thought I’d share this Workplace Harassment Study they published last year.

(So it’s a year old, but I think we can all agree it’s still relevant. I was a little slow on the uptake on this one.)

Some of the statistics are shocking, and I thought you might be interested in them. Are you sitting down?

  • While reported harassers were typically men (78%) and employees in senior positions (73%), other patterns also emerged. For example, 17% of survey respondents reported vendors or clients as the harasser. Remember the employer is still liable even if the harassment comes from outside of the organization!
  • 45% of respondents had witnessed the harassment of a co-worker. (I bet no one reported it either.)
  • 53% of employees who experienced harassment were so afraid of a hostile work environment that they didn’t report the behavior.
  • 46% of employees said fear of retaliation was the main reason for not reporting. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found the fear of retaliation to be the main reason in their research as well.
  • Both large and small companies had the same percentage of employees who claimed to be on the receiving end of harassment: A too large 32%.
  • Between 2010 and 2017 employers paid out over $1 Billion to settle harassment claims filed with the EEOC. Keep in mind that this was before the #MeToo movement exploded in early 2018, which of course increased reports to the EEOC.
  • Out of the employees surveyed, 46% of Millennials reported being harassed which was the highest of the age groups. *Insert cheesy quote about how the next generation is our future* Seriously though, they make up most of the workforce.

These statistics tell me two things.

First, harassment can happen to anyone in any organization. While there are generalities around harassers and organizational risk factors that can foster a culture of harassment, harassment and toxic behaviors are not exclusive. If you’re thinking your business is too small to have a harassment problem, or that it could never happen here, think again.

Second, there is a larger organizational issue here. When employees are afraid of retaliation it’s a sign that your culture is sending that message. Employees will keep quiet and allow the behavior to fester and grow, or go straight to an attorney for legal advice.

Food for thought: What can you do to make speaking up comfortable for your workforce? 

You might check out any one of my LinkedIn Learning courses for tips, and of course, there’s my book, Seeking Civility: How Leaders, Managers, and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying. 

About Catherine Mattice Zundel

Catherine Mattice Zundel, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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