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One in Five Employers Anticipate Increases in Sexual Harassment Claims

Many companies feel sexual harassment training is ineffective today.

Nearly 20% of organizations are preparing for a possible increase in sexual harassment claims, according to a new survey conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), the human capital industry’s leading research firm.  In preparation, nearly a quarter of organizations have, or plan to have, their CEO send an email communication to all employees affirming the company’s zero tolerance policy against harassment. And 20% of organizations plan to revise their current training approach.

“It’s obvious we’ve entered a new era of zero tolerance on sexual harassment and assault,” said Kevin Oakes, i4cp’s CEO.  “What’s not obvious to companies is how to deal with it.  Clearly no organization wants to be slow in addressing issues, and the speed at which claims are being handled now is unprecedented.  However, there is still a lot of discussion in organizations about what to change going forward from previous policies.  And in my discussions with Chief Human Resources Officers over the last few weeks, it’s clear they are still trying to figure out exactly what – if any – changes to make.”

Sexual harassment training ineffectiveness

“One change I’m hoping gets made is in training,” Oakes continued.  “While mandated in several states and in many companies, sexual harassment training is the longest running joke in the corporate training community.  In the past it too often has been an exercise of ‘click through it and complete as fast as possible’ versus any real education happening.  Given recent events and this new climate, that has to change.”

While most organizations provide training on sexual harassment, many agree that it is not working. The survey found that, while 71% of organizations require sexual harassment training, less than half of respondents – 49% – label the training as “effective.”

Trust in HR, or lack thereof

Trust in HR is another issue. Just under half of respondents (47%) believe that HR is trusted to handle sensitive issues effectively to a high extent, with almost an equal number expressing less enthusiasm. Showing a perhaps unsurprising disconnect, HR professionals who participated in the survey gave themselves a huge pat on the back, answering the same question by saying 81% are trusted to a high extent.

Not all organizations are rushing to change their policies or procedures.  Despite the growing number of sexual harassment and assault accusations, a full 47% of organizations aren’t planning new actions to address harassment internally.

More data on sexual harassment in the workplace is available exclusively to i4cp members.

Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.