by Donna Addkison, President/CEO, Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)
Women work. A lot of women work, making up 47% of the American workforce today. Two out three do so to provide the sole or a substantial part of a household income. Yet women in the workforce continue to be the targets of unwanted, unwelcome sexual harassment in the workplace. While the EEOC handles 10-12,000 cases every year, we know this is just the tip of the iceberg. Sexual harrassment threatens women’s ability to provide financial support and economic security for themselves and for their families.
Ever heard the story of the woman on the road as a corporate trainer who had company salesmen appear at her hotel door in the nude? Or the one about the mid-level manager with a boss who continued to ask her out again and again and again in spite of her saying no? And the one about the woman working in construction who was subjected to physical intimidation along with the more subtle forms like ‘pin-ups’ of naked and nearly naked women in the onsite office? Probably not – estimates suggest that only 5-15% of incidents of sexual harassment are reported.
Why? The answers are as simple as they are complex. When your paycheck puts a roof over your family, food on the table, and gas in the car, how do you take on the bad behavior of those who have some level of authority over your work life? Do women sacrifice their jobs or their dignity? Or both?
While women struggle to get a strong foothold in industries and careers with good pay and benefits, they often face the specter of sexual harassment in the workplace. How many women do you know who have their own stories to tell? How many mothers, sisters, and daughters have faced or fallen victim to sexual harassment? How many is enough?
Men and women – both bring value to the workforce. Let’s create safe working environments where men and women are respected at work, protected from sexual harassment, and afforded opportunities to climb career ladders that lead to economic security for themselves and for those who depend on them.
Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.