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#MeToo Movement and the Workplace

In 2006 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) did a study that estimated 25% to 85% of women experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. They also estimated that 75% of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported.Many victims of harassment remain silent out of fear of being ostracized or retaliated against.

The #metoo movement has set out to try fix these issues creating a safer working environment . The movement has also helped remove some the stigma from coming forward and letting victims know that they are not alone. It has also shown the public that this is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with. Many companies predict that in 2018 more people will come forward and report harassment than ever before.

Changes in the workplace

Businesses are now facing more public pressure than ever to make changes, but has this been enough to spur on actual, meaningful change? Several companies have took some initiative recently implemented some policy changes. Shortly after the #metoo movement took off Microsoft changed their procedures on how they handle sexual harassment allegations, eliminating mandatory arbitration agreements. Forced arbitration agreements have been a key instrument in keeping employees silent and incidents out of the public eye, so this is definitely a step in the right direction.

However many of these companies are promising change but are merely going through the motions to maintain good public relations. This is often done under the guise of “harassment training”. A quick 30 minute seminar reiterating rules that everyone should already know is insufficient to affect systemic exploitation that has gone on for decades. Furthermore new policies can often be implemented not to protect the workers, rather to protect the companies from lawsuits. Many of these companies continue to face lawsuits and have yet to truly change the workplace culture.

The #metoo movement has not been able to completely revolutionize workplace environment but it has encouraged more people than ever to speak out and do something. The EEOC has seen a recent surge in claims filed with the organization and this is likely to continue throughout 2018. Hopefully this will encourage more workers to speak up and force employers to finally deal with these serious issues in the workforce.

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