Sexual Harassment at the Workplace: Why the narrative is determential to victims
Forbes Magazine describes sexual harassment at the workplace as more a matter of culture than a matter of court. Indiscriminative of workplace environment or job description, a poll done by CNBC showed that an estimated 27% of American women have disclosed that they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace (Lee, 2017). As more companies have been accused of mishandling sexual harassment complaints against their employees, dealing with it has become more imperative than ever before. Lawsuits by victims of sexual harassment have been met with compensations and terminations without a real look into why workplace harassment has been so normalized and ignored in the past. Likewise, parties involved in the cases have often been required to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) that currently represent the ‘natural’ outcome of sexual harassment complaints (Winkler, 2018). With the code of silence that surrounds this phenomenon, it is ineffective to subsequently attempt to cover it up.
My hypothesis is that as a nation, we are explicitly prioritizing businesses’ bottom lines with cover-ups and treating sexual harassment in the workplace as a scandal, rather than a pattern of depreciation and suppression of working women. Not only does sexual harassment in the workplace increase absenteeism and higher turn-over rates among victims both at the employee and executive level, but also causes reputational harm as well as promoting discrimination within the company and career field. Victims can be indirectly black-listed from entire careers if sexual harassment allegations go public. I would like to explore if the manner to which sexual harassment allegations are handled is one of many reasons the statistics regarding victims is lower than anticipated, in addition to, other reasons why many victims do not disclose sexual harassment they have experienced in the workplace.
The media coverage surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace has been continually pervasive as sources are revealing harassment on a larger scale. Well-known names such as CBE producer, Harvey Weinstein and Les Moonves of CBS corporation (Glamour, 2018). An issue that has long been occurring and equally disregarded, has had immense light shed once the #metoo movement propelled many women to come forward with workplace sexual harassment against powerful executives. I could make an Excel spreadsheet documenting all the instances of sexual harassment in the workplace by executives and politicians, that have been revealed to the public, as well as, collect data from women in an array of career fields that have participated in the #metoo movement on Twitter. Furthermore, I could make judgments whether public shaming of perpetrators is helping or inadvertently hurting the opportunity for women to come forward with sexual harassment claims.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEPOC) sent out a press release of preliminary statistics of workplace harassment in 2018, which reflects an approximate 50% increase in lawsuits challenging sexual harassment in the workplace over the 2017 fiscal year. For my content based research, I could also explore if the innovative training program, “Respectful Workplaces” which teaches skills for employees and supervisors to promote and contribute to respect in the workplace, training over 9,000 employees/supervisors since its launch in October, 2017 has the mobility to create a significant decrease over time (EEOC, 2018).
Therefore, I want to conduct a content-analysis of how we frame sexual harassment in the media and in the workplace, and if the narrative thusfar is detrimental to its victims. The traditional news media I would assess could be The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major news outlets, in addition to, review press releases and sources that have had sexual harassment allegations go public within their own staff and executives. I believe this is an important and significant women’s issue that allows me to investigate and create tangible solutions that may completely change the narrative of sexual harassment in the workplace.