A Benchmark Survey of American Workers on Issues of Workplace Conduct

New research shows perception gap between corporate leadership and American workers on issues of workplace conduct.

One year after the #MeToo movement took root in the United States and corporate leadership has worked to address workplace conduct issues more than ever before, new research conducted by Brunswick Group shows that the American workforce believes that there is more progress to be made.

Among the survey’s key findings:

Incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace remain prevalent.

  • In the past 12 months, more than 25% of employees have “seen or heard of an incident of workplace misconduct” within their organization.
  • 59% of females and 25% of males report having ever been sexually harassed in the workplace.
  • 34% of employees believe that “sexual assault or harassment” is happening “all the time” or “often;” 35% believe gender discrimination is happening “all the time” or “often;” and 34% believe racial or ethnic discrimination is happening “all the time” or “often.”
  • Nearly 70% of leadership “strongly agree” that their workplace “does not tolerate harassment,” while only half of non-leadership employees say the same.
  • Almost half of American workers (48%) say their organization falls short in at least one area of workplace conduct. The areas assessed include “transparency” and “managers modeling appropriate and respectful behavior.”

Employees want more communication from leadership about workplace misconduct and want to trust that these issues will be handled properly.

  • 89% of employees think it is “important to hear their CEO speak about respect in the workplace;” however, less than one third (29%) say they have heard leadership speak about the issue.
  • Only 1 in 4 employees surveyed have attended a training on workplace misconduct in the past 12 months.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 employees believe they “would face retaliation” if they reported an incident of misconduct.
  • 48% of all employees, and 63% of those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed, believe human resources at their organization “ultimately represents the company and will prioritize the company over employees.”

“These findings demonstrate the ripe opportunity for corporate leadership to continue to strengthen and change the culture inside their organizations,” said Shahed Larson, Partner at Brunswick Group specializing in crisis and litigation communications with significant expertise in workplace conduct issues. “As many corporate leaders recognize, systematically and holistically addressing workplace conduct is one of the most important issues facing boards of directors and the C-suite today. Over time, companies that intentionally embrace and enforce clear workplace conduct standards will benefit not only by reducing instances of sexual harassment and discrimination but by building trust and unlocking the full potential of their talent."

The national survey was conducted by Brunswick Insight, the research and analytics arm of Brunswick Group. The survey of 1,000 full-time and part-time employees across a broad range of industries and sectors was conducted online from August 7-14, 2018. The sample is nationally representative based on U.S. census data.

The full results can be viewed online here or download the infographic.