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UT Arlington Study Finds Sexual Harassment Progress in the Workplace Still Lacking

Sexual Harassment Progress

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington College of Business are revisiting a 20-year-old study on the impact of sexual harassment in the workplace, observing the progress and remaining challenges facing society.

The initial study was pubished in 1998 by James Campbell Quick, the John and Judy Goolsby-Jacqualyn A. Fouse Endowed Chair of the UT Arlington Goolsby Leadership Academy. The report was published in a special section of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, devoted to sexual harassment. This year, Quick connected with M. Ann McFadyen, an associate professor of strategic management at UTA, to review the 20-year old findings and see what changes have been made over the past two decades.

The researchers suggest that progress has been made since the last study—noting a 28 percent decrease in sexual harassment related complaints in the workplace—but remains a chronic occupational health problem in society.

“Have we made progress?” Quick comments. “Yes, there has been progress on some fronts but not on others and the problem has morphed, becoming more complicated for a variety of reasons found in the current data.”

McFayden also commented on the negative impacts sexual harassment can have within a workplace—not just directly for the victim, but also with secondary impacts like breaking trust, increasing turnover, and causing disengagement among employees.

Quick and McFayden note the importance of the recent national conversation surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace, such as the #MeToo movement, in regards to inspiring change. The dialogue has demanded new types of training that will ultimately usher in positive change. But that will take some internal effort from organizations.

“Training not only for leaders and management but employees at all ranks, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders,” McFadyen says. “Successful leaders and management of organizations cannot afford to simply maintain the status quo.”

You can read more about the UT Arlington duo’s work here.

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Alanna Shaffer

Staff Writer, covering MetroMBA's news beat for Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas.

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