Sexual harassment cases can cost companies more than their reputation; take Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd’s “intimate friendship” with contractor Jodie Fisher. In one day, HP lost their CEO and consequently saw a 10 percent slump in share price.
Workplace sexual harassment is not new in organizations despite legal enforcements in place to protect employees from this threat. The cases reported by US. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has shown a reduced number of workplace sexual harassment cases (12,696 cases as of 2009 with comparison to 13,867 as of 2008), however it is still important that organizations pay close attention to the seriousness of this issue.
When an employee feels suffocated in a hostile environment, side-effects normally include poor performance, lack of motivation and poor working relationships. This in turn can influence other employees leading to absenteeism and poor employee turnover causing productivity to fall severely, something no company can afford in this economy.
According to Feminist Majority Foundation, in the US it costs an organization $6.7 million choosing to ignore this sensitive problem at the workplace. Meanwhile a study from the University of Michigan has found that gender harassment in the workplace has a negative impact on women’s physical and emotional health.
The report stated that any harassment, irrespective of whether it includes unwanted sexual attention, can affect health but that it is often an essential component. The article entitled Law and Human Behavior said that “verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey insulting, hostile and degrading attitudes to women” could in turn lead to a negative effect on employee professional performance.
Furthermore organizations will have to face obvious costs like legal fees as well as other expenses such as time lost, organizational image and reputation. In the end, this will lead to an unfavorable development and sustainability of the organization.As such, organizations should look into this seriously and thoroughly investigate workplace sexual harassment cases when they arise.
Not only can the effects be damaging to the individual, but they can damage the organization in a much bigger way.