A study says employers have learned almost nothing from the #MeToo movement, and seriously, WTF?
When the #MeToo movement began, many wondered how it would change the dynamics between men and women in the workplace (and everywhere). And yes, a lot of good has come from the movement — there’s no denying that. But a new study suggests that employers have learned next to nothing from the #MeToo movement and honestly, WTF? How many more times do women have to explain what needs to change before employers listen?
Before you think of throwing in the towel, remember that the ongoing conversation surrounding sexual harassment and misconduct is just that — ongoing. Women (and some men) speaking up about their experiences has led to dozens of predators facing consequences for their actions. Every day, women are empowered to speak out and stand up for themselves because of the breadth of #MeToo stories.
And speaking up is causing ripples in the status quo: In Hollywood, the Time’s Up initiative is focused on enacting real legal change when it comes to how studios deal with sexual harassment claims. In Congress, legislators have overhauled how they deal with sexual harassment complaints. These are encouraging advancements, and we’re 100% sure that there are more positive changes to come.
But according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), only 32% of Americans report that their employers have taken new steps to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace. That’s not enough.
The real lesson of the #MeToo movement isn’t that men are harassing women at work (women have always known that, of course) but that most organizations, whether it’s a movie studio or a fast food restaurant, are inept at handling assault accusations.
Only 10% of workers told the APA that their employers have added more training or resources in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and a lowly 8% reported employers implementing stricter policies regarding sexual harassment. Just 7% of employers held a staff meeting or “town hall to discuss sexual harassment,” according to the APA.
Sadly, most companies seem to think they’re doing *just fine* as it is — which is not true. The APA survey found that the most common post-#MeToo action amongst employers was to simply remind employees of the existing sexual harassment policies and resources.
However, when new steps were taken, like changing how human resources deals with complaints or conducts investigations, workers reported higher job satisfaction, motivation, and were more likely to say their company was a quality place to work. So calling all employers: taking steps to prevent harassment and effectively dealing with complaints is good for business.
David W. Ballard, the director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, who conducted the study, said in a statement that the “lack of meaningful change is not entirely surprising,” but that it is disappointing.
"The #MeToo movement has given business leaders an opportunity to finally take real action addressing a complex problem that has been pervasive for generations... Avoiding the issue is bad for employee well-being and business, but so, too, is a narrow, compliance-based approach. We know from psychological science that relying solely on mandated training designed primarily to limit the organization's legal liability is unlikely to be effective."
It’s only been a few months since the first allegations against Harvey Weinstein came out and the #MeToo movement became a cultural phenomenon, so don’t let these results discourage you. Keep demanding action, because employers will eventually have to wise up if they don’t want to be caught in a sexual harassment scandal of their own.