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February 24, 2018


Well would like to think a company would institute a Zero Tolerance Policy because it is the right thing to do.  However some companies need an incentive to do the right thing.  Nothing gets upper management's attention more than the bottom line.

Cost of Sexual Harassment

According to the Working Woman article "Sexual Harassment in the Fortune 500", sexual harassment can cost a company as much as $6.2 million a year due to low productivity, absenteeism and employee turnover.  The Harvard Business Review estimates a company loses $22,500 per employee per year due to productivity loss as a result of sexual harassment.  An estimated $48.8 million additional money is lost due to legal fees and monetary payouts according to to the EEOC study "Sexual Harassment Charges EEOC & FEPAs Combined."

Ignoring sexual harassment and refusing to implement a zero tolerance policy not only hurts employee morale and productivity, it can severely impact the company's bottom line.

Sexual harassment can significantly impact companies in others ways as well.  According to a 2017 study by Walden University, companies that fail to adequately address and prevent sexual harassment risk damaging their reputation among customers and the business community.  Having a reputation of ignoring sexual harassment, especially in the current social climate, can not only reduce a company's ability to  retain current customers, it can also make it difficult to attract new customers. 

Companies who take a strong ethical stand against sexual violence do not want to tarnish their image within the community.  Therefore, they are less likely to partner with companies who fail to seriously address the issue of sexual harassment and assault.  The same can be said for potential employees.  Studies have shown that potential candidates are less likely to accept a job offer if there is a perception management does not take sexual violence seriously and the work environment is unsafe.

Other Tactics

Other ways to encourage a company to institute a Zero Tolerance Policy include petitions, a letter writing campaign, letters to the editor or requesting a local media outlet do an investigative report on the company. 

If you decide to start a petition, be aware that management may or may not take it seriously, especially if female employees are the only ones who sign.  It is important to have male coworkers involved as well.  Identify male colleagues you are fairly certain will sign the petition.  Talk to them about the issue and the idea of a petition.  If they clearly in support of the idea, approach them when they are with male colleagues you are uncertain about.  There is strength in numbers and when one or two gladly sign the petition, peer pressure may encourage those who may not fully support the idea to sign due to peer pressure.

If there are enough coworkers who are willing to take a stand, organize a large group, select a day and have everyone call in sick if the company refuses to put a Zero Tolerance Policy in place.  This tactic has successfully been used by numerous employee groups who are negotiating pay increases or additional benefits.  There is no reason it can't be used in other situations as well.  Be careful using this tactic if there are only a few people willing to take a stand.  Although this is an important issue, you must decide if it worth possibly losing your job.


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