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New Study Shows That Men and Women Have Significantly Different Beliefs as to What Constitutes Sexual Harassment

July 21, 2021

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Earlier this week, TalentLMS, a leading learning management system, and The Purple Campaign, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending sexual harassment in the workplace, released the results of a survey on sexual harassment training at work. The results reveal that men and women have significantly different beliefs as to what constitutes sexual harassment.

Around two-thirds of men (69%) believe suggestive remarks are considered sexual harassment, compared to 92% of women. Further, 47% of men believe making comments about someone’s gender identity counts as sexual harassment, compared to 73% of women.

As companies and workers prepare for a post-pandemic workplace and the return to physical offices, the report from TalentLMS and The Purple Campaign reveals the importance and benefits of providing employees with sexual harassment training:

  • 90% report that after receiving training they are more aware of how to report an incident of sexual harassment.
  • 70% report training makes them more likely to stay with their company.
  • 61% report training makes them feel more productive in their role.

Despite a decline in in-person contact due to remote work, incidents of sexual harassment did not disappear – in fact, they increased.  More than one in four respondents (29%) say they have experienced unwelcome sexual behavior online since the start of COVID-19.

In addition, the same number (29%) of respondents indicated being a witness to an incident of sexual harassment at work and did not take action to address or report it.

“This survey demonstrates that training is a powerful way for employers to reduce instances of sexual harassment by establishing shared norms and improving understanding about the conduct that is acceptable in the workplace,” said Ally Coll, President and Co-Founder of The Purple Campaign. “At the same time, the survey responses make it clear that the effectiveness of anti-harassment training depends greatly on the extent to which they are custom-tailored to specific work environments – including, in the COVID-19 era, remote work.”

Employers need to increase the frequency and effectiveness of sexual harassment training programs. Nearly 20% of respondents claim they either cannot remember when they received sexual harassment training from their employer or only received sexual harassment training once since being hired.  

“There is still a long way to go in educating employers and employees,” said Christina Gialleli, Director of People Ops at Epignosis, the parent company of TalentLMS. “With over 75% of women and 85% of men reporting they feel safer at work after having received training, it’s clear that sexual harassment training needs to be a part of every company’s yearly curriculum.”

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