What Do We Know About Harassers?


While most men and women do not sexually harass their co-workers, those who do, create a serious problem. A recent survey confirms this.

Survey Says

In the survey, the result of collaboration between The New York Times, leading sexual harassment researchers, and the polling and media company Morning Consult, it was discovered that about a third of men said they had done something at work within the past year that would qualify as objectionable behavior or sexual harassment.

This survey was a national representation of men who work full time. The most common type of action is what researchers in the study called “gender harassment”.

  1. By their definition, this included telling crude jokes or stories and sharing inappropriate videos. It also included making remarks that some might consider sexist or offensive.
  2. In all, there were 10 items in the survey.
  3. About 25 percent of men in the survey said they had done at least one of these things.
  4. The survey suggests that, at a minimum, one in 25 men in the average American workplace identifies himself as a harasser.
  5. In addition, men who admitted to telling sexual stories or jokes were about five times as likely to report other harassing behaviors as well.

As mentioned in our earlier blog, a wealth of data indicates, and this survey confirms, that harassers tend to harass or bother multiple people, multiple times, about multiple issues, such as sexually offensive behavior, racially offensive behavior or other negative and inappropriate behavior. This study and many others indicate that inappropriate harassing behavior continues to be an all too common factor in too many work settings.

The Importance of Workplace Culture

A major difference between those who harass and those who don’t is the culture at their workplace. Behaviors associated with harassment are more prevalent among men who say their company does not have guidelines against harassment, nor hotlines to report it or punishment for perpetrators. In addition, they say their managers don’t care.

In short, organizations/employers play a big role in curbing or permitting workplace harassment, said Vicki Magley, a professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut. Research finds that sexual harassment occurs when it is tolerated when policies are not enforced and when incidents are not taken seriously.

How do organizations become proactive to stop and prevent not only sexual harassment but all forms of harassment? That’s another blog.