In recent weeks, ex-Uber employee, Susan Fowler, published a blog that revealed she experienced blatant sexual harassment at the $68-billion-dollar company. Bravely, she and other female employees spoke up about the alleged abuse and stated that even after numerous reports, no serious action was taken by Uber’s internal controls.
This sort of harassment isn’t uncommon to Silicon Valley’s tech company culture. One survey suggested that 3-in-5 women working in Silicon Valley have experienced unwanted sexual advances. Women aren’t the only ones facing this kind of treatment. Monster reports that in 2010, 16.4 percent of all sexual harassment cases filed were by men.
Harassment doesn’t always have to classify as being sexual in nature. It can be physical, emotional, mental or anything that creates an abusive, hostile or intimidating culture. Read my friend’s story below and ask yourself, have you ever faced harassment in the workplace?
Let’s call my friend “Beth.” She began dating a coworker, Luke, and eventually they went their separate ways. Although they had a great working relationship, they were no longer interested in seeing one another. Luke began dating another coworker, let’s call her “Cindy,” who worked in Beth’s department. Beth and her ex-boyfriend had to work in close proximity, because of the certain roles of their position, and this irritated Cindy. She threatened to pull security footage to ensure nothing fishy was going on between the broken-up couple. Cindy also spread workplace rumors about Beth, stalked her at work and even went so far as to contact her on her personal cell phone. Mangers were aware of the situation and tried to separate Beth and Cindy’s projects, so they did not have to work together. This did not stop the harassment. Beth felt unsafe at home and at work, and she eventually left the organization.
How do you combat harassment in the workplace? Speak up! Report the abuse to your company’s human resources team or a trusted manager. Make sure you are logging any inappropriate emails, text messages, phone calls or any other evidence to back up your case. Remember, by reporting the abuse you are not only helping yourself, but others who may be bullied by your harasser.
What if you’re in a situation similar to these women and upper level management doesn’t do anything to stop the harassment?
- File a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after following your company’s internal complaint procedures.
- Leave, it’s time to go! Your safety and comfortability should always be a priority. Join a company that will not only value you, but your talent.
- Self-reflect, and remember that you are not the problem. Harassment is often about power. By standing up and speaking out, you now have the power to change the situation.
We would love to hear from you. How has your company created a zero-tolerance culture when it comes to workplace bullying? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Ashley Metivier
Activities Coordinator, NASBA Center for the Public Trust (CPT)