#MeToo, #TimesUp Movements Drive Corporate Policy Changes

Since last October, more than half (52%) of 150 companies surveyed in June by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas have reviewed the corporate policies on sexual harassment. That’s up from about a third (34%) that were surveyed in January.

The more recent survey also indicates that more companies are revising their previous policies. In the January survey, 63% of respondents were comfortable with their policies compared to 42% in the June survey. The recent survey also found that 2% of companies created new policies in June. None did so when surveyed in January.

Challenger, Gray Vice-President Andrew Challenger, said:

Companies are responding to the cultural movement and recognizing that most of this abuse occurred in the workplace. Calls to make the office a safer place and free from any kind of abuse were overwhelming, and seeing companies respond is heartening. Employers reported adding and clarifying reporting avenues and instituting ‘zero tolerance’ and anti-bullying policies when it comes to workplace harassment.

When asked if they had seen any noticeable changes since the beginning of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, nearly 55% said they saw no demonstrable behavior changes while 14% said they observed a more “respectful atmosphere.” At 2% of the companies, more women were asking for raises and promotions.

Formal written policies related to office romances dipped slightly from January (57%) to June (51%), and about 9% of companies said they now give managers discretion to handle relations, up from 3% in January.

Nearly 25% of employers require all relationships to be disclosed to the company, up from 17% in the January survey. More than three-quarters (78%) “discourage” dating between a subordinate and a manager and 27% are looking at relationships on a case-by-case basis.

Andrew Challenger commented:

Fewer companies want to take office romances on a case-by-case basis, suggesting employers want to get ahead of potential problems by creating an overarching policy. By prohibiting relationships between managers and subordinates, companies can minimize the power dynamics that could lead to the abuse of a manager’s position.

Banning office romances is not the answer, Challenger also noted: “Attempting to forbid office relationships will only keep those who do begin dating from taking appropriate avenues to ensure professionalism.”