A survey conducted by the FTI Consulting firm released Tuesday confirmed that sexual harassment against female workers continues to be under-reported one year after the #MeToo campaign on social media. This issue has become a leading concern for employers, because those who fail to deal with it in a proper way are expected to be held accountable.
The study, which comprised over 5,000 workers, show that many women are still afraid to report abuse, according to Elizabeth Alexander, a senior managing director in strategic communications at FTI Consulting.
Women who haven't seen it, or say it hasn't happened to me, they don't think it's a problem, Alexander said. It's this vicious cycle of under-reporting of what's actually happening and it's keeping it all still hidden from view.
The #MeToo movement began in Hollywood and has unearthed harassment across the corporate landscape. Since film producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting dozens of actresses about a year ago, more than one new accusation has emerged, on average, each day.
Actress Alyssa Milano started it all on Twitter a year ago when she asked women to share their experiences with the #MeToo hashtag. By the next day, more than 600,000 had responded.
The survey compiled responses from more than 4,700 women professionals and about 1,000 male counterparts. It was carried out from the end of May through mid-July.
Only about 10 per cent of women respondents said they weren't specifically aware of the #MeToo movement, and slightly fewer men, at 9 per cent, said the same. This shows that awareness isn't an issue, Alexander said.
FTI conducted the survey with Mine the Gap, which advises companies on gender-inclusive workplaces.
Businesses that don't deal with harassment will pay a cost, she said. Once a company is associated with a public harassment accusation, a majority of men and women have a negative opinion of the company, the survey found. About half of women, meanwhile, are less likely to apply for a job, or buy products or stock in the company.