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Views on sexual harassment on the job appear to be changing

The laser focus of the media has lately been on sexual harassment in the workplace — from the glittery lights of Hollywood to the hallowed halls of Congress, and all points in between.

Changes in the views on sexual harassment?

Only a few short years ago, some of the accusations would likely not have been met with this level of openness and willingness to scrutinize the powerful movers and shakers in charge in corporate cultures and elsewhere.

But the sea change is indeed evident, and this makes it a very good time to review the role of companies in rooting out sexual harassment in the workplace.

Corporations have responsibilities to workers

Most mid- to large-size companies choose to formally address the issue by implementing policies for preventing inappropriate behaviors on the job.

However, as stated by a Rice University associate professor, these policies and training seminars may fall short of the goal of eradicating predatory actions. He said, "Learning about a law may not actually change anybody's behavior. It's really the behavior or the culture that we want to change."

Research findings on the efficacy of corporate sexual harassment is not extensive, but what is out there is not very encouraging. One study indicated that males who complete sexual harassment prevention training tended to blame victims for their own harassment and also noticed and reported incidents of harassment less frequently.

When corporate leadership gets involved in the trainings, the employees absorb more from their participation. The Harvard Business Review suggested that more women holding top positions can also ameliorate some of the issues of harassment.

Retaliation still a problem for accusers

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in its detailed study of workplace sexual harassment last year, determined that accusers' complaints are frequently trivialized. Corporate honchos have reportedly responded with indifference on an organizational level.

Additionally, data from 2003 suggests that as many as three-quarters of the victims who reported harassment were subjected to retaliation.

But this is 2017, and it appears — perhaps for the first time — that corporations have finally (in street parlance) gotten "woke" to the systemic problem of workplace sexual harassment.

The first step includes accountability

If changes are to be lasting, they must come from the top down, infiltrating every department with the knowledge that inappropriate behavior and all forms of harassment have no place on the job.

If you have suffered sexual harassment and/or retaliation for reporting same at your workplace, you don't have to hide in the shadows of victimhood. There are many resources available to assist you with righting these egregious wrongs.

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