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The Worker Institute brings together researchers, educators and students with practitioners in labor, business and policymaking to address issues related to confronting systemic inequality and building a fair economy, robust democracy and just society. We will share opinion, analysis, research, data, insights and training from our faculty and staff.

Advance Findings from Report on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Workplace sexual harassment is widespread across New York state, has a broad impact, and is a problem New Yorkers would like to see their leaders do more to address. These are the findings of a new report from The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR.

Workplace sexual harassment and efforts to confront it are not new. With the #MeToo movement, a new chapter began in the public conversation around sexual and gender-based harassment and violence in the workplace. Millions of individuals shared their experiences of sexual harassment and violence.

Despite the #MeToo movement, many experiences of sexual harassment and violence remain hidden from view. In the world of work, as elsewhere, coming forward remains challenging. Even when survivors report workplace sexual harassment, non-disclosure agreements and other factors can prevent these incidents from seeing the light of day.

To create a broad snapshot of workplace sexual harassment in New York, The Worker Institute added four questions to the Empire State Poll. The Empire State Poll is a general phone survey of adults age 18 and over who are residents of New York state. With 800 respondents, the margin of error for the survey is ± 3.5 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Data collection for the 2018 Empire State Poll occurred between February 1, 2018, and April 1, 2018.

Below are the main findings from our descriptive analysis of the 2018 Empire State Poll. The Worker Institute will release a full report within the month.

Findings include:

  • Quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment is widespread across New York state. One in 10 New Yorkers above the age of 18 report experiencing quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment where “someone in a position of authority at [their] workplace [tried] to trade job benefits for sexual favors.”
  • The toxic impact of sexism is complex and far reaching. Workplace sexual harassment is often characterized as a women’s issue, which it is, but it is also a men’s issue. While 12.2 percent of women in Pinto, Wagner, and West’s poll report quid pro quo sexual harassment at work, 9.5 percent of men also did – almost one in 10 of the men responding.
  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment disproportionately affects people of color. Those of Hispanic origin and people of color were statistically significantly more likely to say they experienced quid pro quo sexual harassment at some point over the course of their working careers than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. 13.9 percent of people of color and those of Hispanic origin in New York state said they had experienced quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment, compared to 8.5 percent of non- Hispanic whites.

You can read the full list of advance findings here.

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