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Corporate Press Release Groundbreaking Study of the Professional Workplace Shows 63 Percent of Women Have Experienced, Witnessed or Are Aware of Sexual Harassment

Published
  • March 13 2018, 10:00am EDT

NEW YORK (March 13, 2018) – SourceMedia, a digital business information and media company serving senior decision-makers in finance, technology and healthcare, today released the findings of a new study, “Sexual Harassment in the Professional Workplace,” which details the implications of sexual harassment for its audience communities.

The groundbreaking study was conducted online, in February and March 2018, across all sectors SourceMedia serves — banking, payments, mortgages, wealth management, accounting, healthcare, employee benefits, and capital markets (including municipal finance and M&A advising). More than 3,000 individuals completed the survey.

The survey’s respondents represent the audiences of SourceMedia’s information brands, including American Banker, National Mortgage News, The Bond Buyer, Accounting Today, Financial Planning, Employee Benefit News and Health Data Management. Analysis and highlights of the study, including reports on individual market sectors, will published on all SourceMedia websites.

The findings indicate that overall exposure to sexual harassment is high, with 63 percent of women and 51 percent of men having personally experienced it, witnessed it happening, or heard about others having experienced it at some point in their careers.

Professionals in the financial advisory/wealth management sector are far more likely to say sexual harassment is highly prevalent in their industry (22%) than those in any other industry covered by the study (it’s 15% for those in insurance and 8% in accounting). Many of the wealth management respondents cited their industry’s history as a factor. “It’s getting better, but it is a carry-over from years past when the industry included a substantial amount of flirting and hitting on, which today is more likely than not called sexual harassment,” says one male survey respondent, who has 25 years of experience in the profession.

Respondents at organizations with fewer than 100 employees are more likely to say that sexual harassment is highly prevalent in their industry (16 percent) than those at larger firms. The responses suggest this is related to a lack of extensive human resources departments to facilitate training and patrol transgressions. With fewer employees “it is easy to be loose and less professional as there are no ramifications," says one respondent.

“SourceMedia’s findings shed new light on the problem of harassment because they take into account the experiences of professionals of all ranks, up to and including top executives, and because they cover multiple professional sectors in detail,” said SourceMedia Chief Content Officer David Longobardi. “Participants were highly engaged in our study, with most providing written comments to expand on their survey responses, and many volunteering to be contacted by reporters.”

Of the respondents, 64% were men and 36% women; while 34% were upper/executive management, 17% were middle management, 16% were managers/supervisors and 33% were non-management.

Women are more likely to have personally been subject to sexual harassment (29 percent of all female respondents), but men and women are equally aware that harassment is happening. Awareness is defined as having experienced, witnessed or heard about unwelcome sexual conduct. Sexual harassment is defined as including behaviors that range from inappropriate personal questions and jokes to persistent sexual requests and threats of retaliation for not complying with demands for sex.

The survey revealed the gap between what women who have experienced sexual harassment say is happening and what “aware” men say is happening and to what extent. Men cite “inappropriate questions, jokes and innuendo” to the same degree that the women do. But men are far less aware of the extent of persistent unwelcome requests, threats of retaliation and unwanted touching — perhaps because these behaviors are deemed acceptable by some men, or perhaps because these behaviors are less visible.

Finally, fewer than half of respondents say they think harassment is “always” or “usually” handled fairly by organizations in their industry. Women who have been subject to the most severe forms of unwelcome sexual behavior have the least confidence their organizations will do the right thing.

“We did this because we believed it would make a difference,” said Longobardi. “We believe that executives in financial services, in healthcare, in banking — if they’re truly dedicated to building prosperous futures for the organizations they lead — will benefit from taking a hard look at the real dynamics of harassment in their industries.”

About SourceMedia

SourceMedia, an Observer Capital company, is an innovative, growing digital business information and media company serving senior-level professionals in the financial, technology and healthcare sectors. Brands include American Banker, PaymentsSource, The Bond Buyer, Financial Planning, Accounting Today, Mergers & Acquisitions, PaymentsSource, National Mortgage News, Employee Benefit News and Health Data Management.