Sexual harassment at work is less tolerated if bosses are positioned against | Talent
Reports of sexual harassment at work have proliferated in recent years, pushed by movements such as the #metoo, which led thousands of women around the world to share their experiences of harassment on social networks. And, although the most acclaimed accusations have been made in the world of American entertainment, more and more voices are also rising in Spain. Still, most cases of sexual harassment in work environments occur in anonymous people, are much more numerous than reported and extremely difficult to manage. Because on many occasions, stalkers are bosses, powerful figures who make victims fear reprisals if they denounce. But it is precisely they who have the leeway to start promoting change in companies. When bosses communicate that ending sexual harassment is a priority, tolerance to these attitudes is reduced by the workforce. That is at least the conclusion reached by the study Leader messaging and attitudes to sexual violence, published in the sociology journal SAGE Journals.
Sexual harassment causes work to become a hostile environment for the victims, causing them anguish, causing them to lose confidence and alter their self-image. As clinical psychology explains, they can develop a post-traumatic stress disorder. All this makes the hours stop being productive and increase absences. A meta-analysis of the background and consequences of sexual harassment in the workplace He found that each case can make the company lose an average of $ 22,500.
These situations are fueled by environments that do not punish macho attitudes. And this is precisely one of the movements that companies can make to start fighting harassment, according to the study. The simple fact that the boss communicates that it is an important issue for the company already helps to create a safer environment for the victims. "This indicates to others how much they should prioritize the issue and establishes a culture in which sexual harassment is not tolerated," the statement read. paper.
The attitude of the bosses changes the business culture: it guides employees on what attitudes are tolerable or not within that work environment. Daniel Goleman, psychologist, anthropologist, journalist and an eminence of emotional intelligence, dissects how the attitude of the leaders is transferred to the rest of the team and how it can condition the performance of the company. During his last investigation, Goleman found that, of all the elements that affect the final performance, the importance of the behavior of the leader is very influential: it is transmitted through an organization such as electricity through cables.
And it is important that the business culture changes because it is one of the best predictors of sexual harassment at work. "When the climate towards sexual harassment is lenient, members feel there are few consequences: that those who participate will be protected, while those who tell will be ignored or even penalized," explain Chloe Hart, Alison Dahl and Shelley Correl, experts in Sociology from Stanford University and responsible for the study.
Leaders have in their hands to raise the level of concern about sexual harassment. This is a first step to start fighting it, but does it hurt the image of the company? Some might think so, but the truth is that denying the problem does not make it disappear and denouncing it shows commitment. "Ignoring the problem can aggravate the trauma suffered by the victims, and people who are sexually harassed already experience negative consequences for their health, and research shows that when institutions fail, the damage is exacerbated," the persons responsible for the investigation explain. And they add: "If the leaders do nothing, they are not acting neutrally, they may be fostering a culture where sexual harassment will be more frequent." Of course, the leader's communication alone will not solve this problem. But transmitting a clear message of zero tolerance is an important first step.