Lone workers are at risk from sexual harassment in the workplace, but Safe Hub provides a reporting mechanism and virtual buddy in one.
With the rise of the Me Too Movement in 2017, sexual harassment became a global talking point. Of course, it was allegations coming to light in Hollywood that really focused the public mind. But sexual harassment doesn’t only take place on casting couches and in hotel rooms. The threat of sexual intimidation and assault can happen in any workplace. And lone workers are often the ones most at risk. It may be someone working late in the office, or a restaurant host dealing with large groups of people. Alternatively, it might be a worker providing home healthcare, or a driver service. In this blog, we're going to look more closely at how Safe Hub helps lone workers if they suffer sexual harassment in the workplace.
Protections to stop sexual harassment in US workplaces
Sexual harassment can happen at any time, in any place, and to anyone. It can range from unwanted comments to intimidating behavior to acts of sexual violence, all of such conduct being identified as unwelcome. In the workplace, the victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man, but the victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Federal law prohibits two types of sexual harassment in the workplace. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a supervisor or other person has apparent authority to confer or withhold an employment benefit. They demand sexual favors from an employee in return for continued employment or some employment benefit. Hostile work environment harassment happens when an employee is subject to unwelcome sexually offensive conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an abusive or hostile work environment. This depends on the frequency and severity of discriminatory conduct, whether conduct is physically threatening or humiliating, and whether it unreasonably interferes with work performance.
Workplace sexual harassment surveys don't add up
Of course, sexual harassment is a broader problem across society. According to a 2018 survey by the nonprofit “Stop Street Harassment,” 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men have experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime. More than half of those women reported unwelcome sexual touching.
But one problem is that there are no standardized surveys on sexual harassment within the workplace across all 50 states. In September 2020, the United States Government Accountability Office released a report on workplace sexual harassment, focusing on data from federal workers. Even in the sphere of federal agencies, the report found that data on sexual harassment uses different types of questions and metrics. It found that the structure of the question and the recall period varies such that the results indicate anywhere from just 4% of women to 52% of them experiencing workplace harassment.
Similarly, a Select Task Force of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found anywhere from 25% to 75% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. If the term used is “sexual harassment”, 25% of participants reported having experienced it. Yet this percentage rose to 40% when participants were asked if they had experienced one or more listed examples of “specific sexually-based behaviors, such as unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion.” And this rose to 75% once the question covered broader "gender harassment".
Safeguarding is essential, but culture must change
One concrete measure is that more than 7,500 sexual harassment claims were filed with EEOC in FY 2018. This was a 14% increase from the prior year. Due to the recent wave of sexual harassment accusations, many states are looking to go beyond federal regulations to prevent workplace sexual harassment. It makes sense to do so, given the cost repercussions of such behavior. Victims can show mental or physical health symptoms, and they may be coerced to leave their job with detrimental effects on their career. For those who do report the incident, there may be legal costs.
For companies or organizations where harassment does take place, they may see increased absenteeism, lower productivity, and poorer job satisfaction levels. And of course, they may face the costs of any settlement in victims' favor. As a minimum, employers must set out workplace conduct guidelines and harassment policies to establish best practice. Managers need training to ‘actively listen’ and take the appropriate action to sexual harassment complaints. And guidelines on what is acceptable behavior includes teaching workers on how to support their co-workers.
Deploying Sky Alert is one concrete measure to take
In the meantime, there is plenty that employers can do to improve the situation on the ground to protect and support lone workers in particular. When it comes to sexual harassment, Sky Alert's, Safe Hub provides a virtual buddy, support system and lifeline all rolled into one. Safe Hub is here to help lone workers who need help fast, connecting them via apps and devices to our Monitoring & Response Center. High-quality two-way audio means that Safe Hub can be used as a virtual buddy; operatives at our Center stay on the line and actively listen as events unfold. They can also record conversations, which can be used as evidence in any future investigation.
Let’s be clear. No one of any age, gender or sexual orientation should face unwanted sexual advances or harassment in the workplace. It damages lives, and there is never a place for it. We're here to make life easier for lone workers subjected to sexual harassment. And we call on legislators at both federal and state level to take the issue seriously and establish a means of measuring its effects across all 50 states.
Contact one of the team today to find out more about how Safe Hub can mitigate the effects of sexual harassment for lone workers.
About Sky Alert
Safe Hub, from Sky Alert, is an advanced security platform that protects people working alone. With pinpoint accuracy and lightning-fast response, Safe Hub is not just another 911 app. It's all-around protection for lone workers. Using a discreet personal device such as the SOS Fob, our advanced App on a smartphone, or the SPOT X satellite device, Safe Hub connects users with a state-of-the-art Monitoring Response Center (MRC). At the MRC, highly trained operatives can provide immediate assistance directing the police or paramedics to your GPS location in the fastest time possible.