As the #MeToo movement has so poignantly illustrated, nobody should ever be harassed or abused by those in power. What started as an entertainment industry issue has now shed light on the prevalence of workplace sexual abuse— and the institutional suppression of victims— in athletics, religious institutions, retail, restaurants, hospitality and gaming, finance, government and commercial real estate.
While the manufacturing industry has yet to have any high-profile #MeToo cases, this speaks more to the industry’s separation from the limelight, and is not an indicator of a lack of harassment cases. In fact, based on 8 years’ worth of sexual harassment claims (2010-2017) filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity commission (EEOC), the manufacturing industry has the third-highest number of cases—third only to the hospitality and retail industries. Out of 57,718 total claims made in that 8-year period , 6,764 (or 11.7%) were from those employed in manufacturing; and 83% (5,614) of those claims were filed by women. The number and percentage alone don’t tell the full story, however— women represent roughly 25 percent of workers in the manufacturing industry, whereas they make up 50 percent of the hospitality and retail workforce. Because many manufacturing jobs—such as machinists and craft workers—have long been male-dominated, women who enter the field may lack power or be seen as outsiders and are in smaller numbers, thus making them targets for harassment.
- That’s 6,764 manufacturing employees who felt their workplaces were hostile
- That’s 6,764 companies and executive teams who had to hire attorneys, insurance professionals and public relations experts to investigate and address these claims
- Worse yet, 75% of claims were accompanied by some form of alleged retaliation by the employer/accused
Since the #MeToo movement took hold, Alper Services has received a large number of inquiries from Clients wanting to ensure their workplaces, leadership, and employees are not part of the next case. Drawing upon decades of experience, our answer is simple—use the movement to take an inward look at your company from top to bottom. Ask yourself if everyone is working to create a culture of openness, fairness and zero tolerance. Top leadership must also lead by example and all levels of management must identify and remedy issues before they arise while at the same time creating open communication channels and taking quick and fair disciplinary action whenever required.
Your Alper Services “Team of Experts” is here to ensure you have the right mix of legal, cultural, human resources and insurance protections to combat harassment and to ensure nobody in your organization will ever have to use the phrase #MeToo.