Workplace sexual harassment widespread in NYS, according to Cornell report

Oct 22, 2019

The co-author of a new report on quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace says while there is a renewed general commitment to stronger accountability, much more needs to be done.

KC Wagner from Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School is a contributor to the report, called “Stopping Sexual Harassment in the Empire State: Past, Present, and a Possible Future.”

She says findings drawn from the 2018 Empire State Poll, a statewide survey conducted by the Cornell Survey Research Institute, finds millions of New Yorkers have fallen victim to sexual harassment in the workplace. Among the findings:

  • 0.9 percent of New York residents have experienced quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment, and 21.9 percent have experienced workplace sexual harassment that created a hostile work environment; 31.1 percent of women and 18.9 percent of men have experienced at least one of these forms of harassment.
     
  • 13.9 percent of people of color and people of Hispanic origin have experienced quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment, as opposed to 8.5 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
     
  • 38.9 percent of those experiencing at least one form of workplace sexual harassment say it impacted their work or careers; 48.9 percent who experienced quid pro quo harassment reported such an impact.
     
  • 83.4 percent of New York residents think their leaders should do more to address workplace sexual harassment. There is notable variation by politics and ideology, but regardless of worldview, strong majorities think leaders should do more.

Wagner says the report concludes a holistic approach is needed to address an issue of this magnitude.

That includes treating workplace sexual harassment as a deeply embedded institutional problem rather than a matter of “a few bad apples,” solvable by punishing individual culprits.

Wagner says solutions to the problem must include having survivors at the center of responses that advance culture change in the workplace.

“So there are many levels of intervention that need to happen so we can break the silos and have a much more holistic, comprehensive approach,” she said.

Click here to view the report.