How Admins Can Fight Sexual Harrassment
Kayla Baxter | AdminSecret
Sexual harassment of admins can be as simple as a client’s unwanted flirtatious winks or as elaborate as a male boss’s systematic assaults on female employees.
And admins are likely to encounter this occupational hazard. Approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year.
31% of the female workers claimed to have been harassed at work – and 62% of those workers took no action.
Of the women who had been harassed:
• 43% were harassed by a supervisor
• 27% were harassed by an employee senior to them
• 19% were harassed by a coworker at their level
• 8% were harassed by a junior employee
Studies suggest anywhere between 40-70% of women and 10-20% of men have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
Culture and Stereotypes Set the Stage for Harassment
Some observers say stereotypes fuel sexual harassment of administrative assistants. Sexy secretary images in the media are really nonstop, so it’s clear where men get the idea that admins are there to provide sexual services.
Additionally, many clothing lines that sell suits to women cater to the “sexy secretary” stereotype. Office television shows like Ally McBeal depict skirts with hemlines that keep on rising.
Today’s fashions also contribute to the problem – the media and clothing companies wants admins to think that they can’t get ahead without sky-high heels, a pencil skirt and lipstick – all elements of the stereotypical sex symbol.
Admins Underreport Incidents
Admins, who often become thick-skinned from dealing with difficult clients and bosses, don’t always acknowledge the seriousness of sexual harassment.
Underreporting of the problem is sadly common. Admins sometimes belittle clients or bosses behind their backs who harass them or make light of incidents that may take an emotional toll, instead of taking action.