Today, LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey released new research to better understand employee attitudes in the United Kingdom in the wake of media coverage of the #MeToo movement. Their survey found that 40 percent of managers who are men in the U.K. are uncomfortable participating in a common workplace activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, and socializing together. That is a 33 percent increase from how they felt before widespread reports of sexual harassment. In light of these findings, LeanIn.Org is calling on men to do more to support women’s careers.
Additional findings reveal senior-level men are twice as hesitant to spend time with junior women than junior men across a range of basic work activities, including one-on-one meetings, traveling for work, and business dinners. Meanwhile, one third of women have noticed that senior men have been less likely to interact with them at work or socialize with them outside of work during the past two years.
“It’s clear that sexual harassment needs to be addressed in our workplaces, but it’s not enough to not harass us. Sexual harassment is about power structures, and to make our organizations safer for everyone, we need more women in leadership. That can’t happen if men — who are the majority of senior leaders — are pulling back from mentoring and supporting women,” said Sheryl Sandberg, founder of LeanIn.Org and COO of Facebook. “We need equal access. That means getting the same mentorship, the same one-on-one meetings, and the same opportunities as our colleagues who are men.”
The survey also shows that sexual harassment continues to impact workplaces — and that there are big differences in what women and men feel is happening:
64 percent of women report that they’ve experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace, from hearing sexist jokes to being touched in an inappropriate way.
19 percent of women say harassment at work is on the rise. 14 percent of men agree. On the other hand, 28 percent of men say harassment is decreasing. 20 percent of women agree.
42 percent of men say that the consequences of sexual harassment claims are more damaging to the careers of harassers, not victims. 72 percent of women say the victims end up paying a higher price.
Employees say their companies are trying to prevent sexual harassment — but they don’t think it’s enough:
51 percent of employees say that their company has taken action to address sexual harassment.
More than three-quarters of employees believe their company would thoroughly investigate harassment claims.
But half of employees say punishments are not harsh enough. And 3 in 10 employees think that high performers are rarely or never held accountable when they harass someone.
“We are proud to partner with LeanIn.Org on this continuing research that shines a light on some of the less overt, more insidious challenges women face in workplaces around the world,” said Jon Cohen, Chief Research Officer at SurveyMonkey. “This study makes it clear that senior leaders in the U.K. need to do more to ensure women receive equal access and opportunity to advance their careers. This is a critical component of building fairer, more equal workplaces for everyone.”
LeanIn.Org is encouraging men to take action, such as mentoring and sponsoring the women they work with. Studies show that people with mentors are more likely to get promoted than people without mentors. Yet on average, women receive less of the mentorship and sponsorship that matters, particularly women of color.
“We need men to be part of the solution — and that means actively mentoring and sponsoring women, not shying away from them or excluding them,” said Rachel Thomas, president of LeanIn.Org. “The workplace will be safer and stronger when women have the same opportunities to advance as men do. When companies employ more women, sexual harassment is less prevalent. And when more women are in leadership, company profits are higher and employee policies are more generous.”
At leanin.org/mentorher, readers will find research-backed information on why mentorship makes a significant difference in women’s careers, what good mentorship looks like, and other ways to challenge gender bias at work. By ensuring that women get equal access, managers can help make the workplace fairer and safer for everyone.
An initiative of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, LeanIn.Org works to help women achieve their ambitions and create a more equal world. LeanIn.Org offers inspiration and support through an online community, free education materials, and Lean In Circles, small groups of peers who meet regularly to learn and grow together. The Lean In community includes more than two million women and men and 43,000 Lean In Circles in 172 countries. The Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, which also runs OptionB.Org, is a private operating nonprofit organization under IRS section 501(c)(3).