Tuesday, 13 Nov 2018
Business

One complaint of sexual harassment can tarnish the image of a business


Harvey Weinstein was charged with sexual acts forced by a third woman in an updated indictment. Attorney General Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced the indictment on Monday, July 2. (Seth Wenig / AP Photo)

Even in the #MeToo era, with increased sensitivity to sexual harassment complaints and fears of making damaging headlines, companies could take a sexual misconduct allegation a little less seriously than a complaint about sexual harassment. allegation of financial fraud. A new study suggests – at least in terms of their public image – that they may not have it.

In a working document Reported by the Harvard Business Review, researchers from UCLA and the University of Amsterdam have discovered that a single allegation of sexual harassment can hurt the way people view an employer . It is not necessary that Harvey Weinstein be on the payroll with several allegations in play to have an effect.

Even after an allegation of violation, said Serena Does, one of the newspaper's co-authors, "people have changed their perception of the organization's loyalty to men and women in a much broader way" , she said. "WWhat we show is that one request is enough to start this psychological process. When people make themselves heard, they change their perception of inequality. "

In a number of experimental studies with participants in the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform, researchers found that participants in the sexual harassment complaint were not only less equitable than those in a control group in which no misconduct was found. had been reported, but also less fair among those with other people. transgressions, such as charges of financial misconduct.

This is logical, of course, since fraud has little to do with inequality. But researchers also found that people were more likely to view harassment as a cultural problem – rather than the mere result of a rotten apple – compared to financial misconduct. In addition, the study participants' willingness to work for employers who were the subject of a sexual harassment complaint was lower than those who were the subject of a complaint of fraud.

The results could be a compelling incentive for companies to take the first allegations of sexual harassment even more seriously. A survey published in April by Qualtrics and The Boardlist, which maintains a directory of women board members, found that only 25% of directors said their board had already taken action as a result of allegations of sexual harassment. Investors have also begun to see it more as an investment risk.

Their latest research examines why this might be, speculating that it may be due to victims of sexual harassment having a clearer victim, while those affected by financial fraud claims may be less obvious. In addition, she said: "ppeople might be less inclined to believe that there is only one woman [making the claim] – Where there is smoke there is a fire. "While" for fraud, a single case might be easier to imagine. "

The good news for employers is that a company's answer can help counteract public reactions. When an employer reacted in a timely manner, inquiring and taking into account the victim's reaction, participants in the experimental studies were able to minimize their image in the participants' minds, compared to those who tried to minimize the allegation of harassment.

"TThe response from the organization can help, he said, or make things worse.

Read also:

Why sexual harassment training does not stop harassment

Fear and panic in the human resources department in the face of growing allegations of sexual harassment

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