As women rise up the company ranks, they might hope that sexual harassment will become a thing of the past. However, evidence suggests that being promoted does not prevent male colleagues from targeting them. In fact, it could make it more likely.
A recent survey by Stockholm University found that females in supervisory roles in the U.S. were 50% more likely to give specific instances of sexual harassment they experienced than lower-ranked workers could.
Why do workers harass women in senior positions?
Several reasons may explain why higher-ranked women reported more instances of sexual harassment:
- Jealousy: Regardless of gender, there can be conflict when you promote someone. Others may feel the promotion should have gone to them.
- Outdated stereotypes: While there have always been women at the top of companies, some workers may still not expect it. Especially in some industries or companies, people may never have worked under a woman before. It may challenge their worldview.
- More people know who you are: As one of 100 workers squirreling away at a computer on the fourth floor, you blend in easily. When you get promoted, you will have a whole set of people under your management. They now all know who you are. Other managers and senior staff will also become aware of your presence.
Despite considerable leaps in gender equality, sexism is still rife throughout society as a whole. As a business owner, it can be challenging to ensure all your employees treat each other equally regardless of gender. Seek help if you are unsure of the actions the law requires you to take to prevent sexual harassment in your workplace.