Post #MeToo: More women demand raises and companies enforce 'love contracts'

Post #MeToo: More women demand raises and companies enforce ‘love contracts’

sexual harassment at work
The #MeToo movement has widely been described as a reckoning after an unprecedented number of women globally, exposed stories of sexual harassment and abuse in light of allegations against Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein.

But now it seems there’s been another, unexpected trigger effect of the movement: More women than ever are asking their employers for promotions.

In fact, since the #MeToo movement first kicked off in October last year, there’s been a 2 percent increase in women asking for a raise or a promotion, according to findings released Tuesday by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

A survey, which included 150 global HR executives in June, also found that more than 52 percent of companies had reviewed their sexual harassment policies since “Me Too” began with close to 17 percent of employers reporting an increase in complaints of inappropriate behaviour.

More than 7 percent reported male employees as being more cautious in their interactions with female colleagues, and just over 2 percent said they observed women doing the same.

“Companies are responding to the cultural movement and recognising that most of this abuse occurred in the workplace,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of the Chicago consultancy, expressed in a statement. “It is not surprising that companies are seeing more people come forward in the wake of #MeToo, as workers feel supported and empowered to do so.”

Companies are reportedly taking measures to stamp out sexual misconduct in the workplace by discouraging various actions like dating between subordinates and managers. 78 percent of companies surveyed said they had implemented this policy in June, up from 70 percent in January.

The findings indicate that “employers want to get ahead of potential problems by creating an overarching policy,” said Challenger, who supports the discouragement of relationships between bosses and subordinates, but not among colleagues.

Indeed, such policies to prohibit workplace dating may seem severe they’re not entirely overblown.

According to the same research, 62 percent of HR executives said they had to deal with a failed or inappropriate relationship at work, with one-third ending in at least one person’s separation from the company. A further 17 percent of employers were driven to move one of the individuals to a different department and five percent of these failed relationships led to litigation.

Indeed, companies are going to extreme lengths to ensure relationships between co-workers are consensual to free them from liability. “Love contracts” have become common; with employers compiling official documents outlining necessary parameters for all new relationships.

“Real-life office romances are nowhere near as straightforward as they are portrayed on TV. The Office’s Jim and Pam are outliers in the actual workplace. Unequal power, unclear boundaries, bad breakups, and office politics all have potentially career-ending and life-altering consequences for employees, which is why HR policy addressing relationships is crucial in protecting everyone’s best interests,” said Challenger.


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