#MeToo: How Can Managers Best Respond to Sexual Harassment?

Written by Young Government Leaders on .

A fog is clearing, revealing dozens (as of now) of powerful men and some women to be abusive, harassing bosses. 

Many bosses, are asking themselves if this kind of conduct is truly so commonplace in 2017 and how to stop it. Though creating a better workplace culture is everyone’s responsibility, supervisors and managers have the most power to prevent, detect, and respond to harassment. So what can they do?

Every fifth woman you meet in a federal workplace has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last two years.  One out of a hundred have experienced actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.

We have no idea how many people are harassed in the workforce because many people don’t file formal complaints due to fear of retaliationAnalysis of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) data by the Center for American Progress found only 15,000 complaints of sexual harassment filed in 2016, and only 85,000 filed from 2005 to 2015, or an average of 8,500 a year. It strains credulity to believe that less than one-tenth of one percent of the American workforce had experienced sexual harassment, given what we keep learning about powerful men (and a handful of women) in every other field. A GovExec summary of a Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) report which found that 18% of female Feds in 2015-2016 had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, which would equate to over 80,000 complaints a year. Another 1%, or one out of a hundred, reported that they’d experienced actual or attempted rape or sexual assault. This data shows us that every fifth woman you meet in a federal workplace has experienced something like this. 

There’s plenty of guidance on preventing sexual harassment and best practices available for managers. As a young woman and a future federal leader, I’d like to use that as a launching point to suggest some cultural changes that managers can bring to their teams:

Jovanka Balac is the national President for Young Government Leaders, an association of young leaders across the federal government seeking to educate, inspire, and transform, as well as serve as a coordinated voice, for current and future leaders in government.  Jovanka works as a project manager for a federal agency, served as a Youth Development Advisor in Romania with the United States Peace Corps, and worked to get every impoverished child enrolled in school in Romania with an NGO called OvidiuRo.






Posted in Young Gov

Tags: Young Government Leaders, federal workforce, sexual harassment