HR Management & Compliance

#MeToo: 72% of Workers Who Experience Sexual Harassment at Work Do Not Report It

Thanks to the #MeToo movement, more victims are feeling empowered to come forward about workplace sexual harassment, but according to a new CareerBuilder survey, the majority continue to keep quiet. Of those who have been sexually harassed, the majority (72%) did not report the incident and more than half (54%) did not confront the person responsible for harassment.


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Looking at who has felt sexually harassed in the workplace, more than one in 10 workers (12%) say they have, with women (17%) more likely to feel harassed than men (7%). Breaking this down by age, 17% of 18- to 34-year-olds report feeling sexually harassed at work compared to 11% of 35- to 44-year-olds, 10% of 45- to 54-year-olds, and 9% of 55 and older.

This survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll from November 28 and December 20, 2017 and included a representative sample of 809 full-time workers across industries and company sizes in the U.S. private sector.

An Issue Across Levels

When asked who they were harassed by, employees pointed to a number of statuses and positions. Twenty-eight percent of those who have felt sexually harassed at work said they were sexually harassed by their boss, and nearly two in five (37%) said they were sexually harassed by more than one person. Overall, those who felt harassed said the person(s) responsible for the harassment held these positions:

  • Coworker (peer): 60%
  • Manager or supervisor: 36%
  • Client: 9%
  • Senior management: 8%
  • Vendor: 5%
  • Direct report: 3%

Most Victims Remain Silent

While the majority of those who say they have felt sexually harassed in the workplace say they did not confront the person responsible for harassment, of those who did (46%), 13% said the situation stayed the same, and 9% said it became worse.

Overall, 28% of those harassed said they reported it, with 15% telling the person’s boss or someone higher up in the organization, 11% telling HR, and 3% the legal department.

Those who did not report the sexual harassment most often did not because they didn’t want to be labeled a troublemaker (40%), said it was their word against the other person (22%), or were afraid of losing their job (18%). On the other hand, of those who did report it, 76% said the issue was resolved–29% said the person stopped the harassment and 21% said the person was fired.

While most employees stick it out, 13% of those harassed said they left their job because of it.