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Linked – Return to Office, Return to Sexual Harassment?

Well, this probably shouldn’t be as shocking as it seems:

Specifically, 12% of women working in person reported harassment, in contrast to only 5% of remote workers. These statistics underscore the protective barrier that remote work can offer, particularly for women and marginalized groups who are disproportionately affected by workplace harassment.

The poll further highlights disparities across various demographics. Nonbinary workers, for instance, reported a significant decrease in harassment incidents during remote work periods, with 20% experiencing harassment in the past three years, compared to 30% pre-pandemic. For workers under the age of 35, 8% of remote workers reported harassment, versus 14% of those working in person. These figures suggest that remote work environments provide a degree of protection that in-person work cannot match.

The article offers some suggestions on educating your employees about harassment and what you should be doing with programs, but I want to get brutally honest here.

What workplace hasn’t already held a sexual harassment seminar? Is it making any difference? Not when you tell me that remote work was the most effective way to lower incidences of harassment. Essentially, keeping people away from each other was the only way we found to dent the overall statistics significantly.

Want to know what would make a dent? Fire people. On the spot. Publicly. The first time it happens.

I’m a huge fan of remote work. It has many benefits for me as an employee and for employers who can find the best talent regardless of location. On this issue, though, it doesn’t matter where people work, but while we’re being honest, we have to admit that one of the benefits is being far away from shitty coworkers.

For employees being harassed, not having to physically be in the same space as the person harassing them can make a huge difference. On the other hand, protecting the people in your organization from harassers shouldn’t be this complicated. Don’t keep harassers around.

I want to be clear. I don’t care if the harasser is the CEO, on the Board, or a senior partner. If your organization cannot protect its workers from harassment, you have failed as an employer, and no one should work for you. It’s not safe.

So, whether your teams work and collaborate remotely, in person, or some hybrid arrangement, your job is to keep them safe from harassment. That’s it. If someone in your organization has proven unsafe, you make the change.

As I’ve said before, your culture is the worst behavior tolerated. If there is a known harasser in your organization, your culture is unsafe for employees and will remain so until that is no longer tolerated, and that person is gone.

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