No interoffice relationships are now immune to the effects of #MeToo followed by #TimesUp and, as a result, employees are being a little more careful about how far these connections go.
Office romance is now at a 10-year low, according to a report by CareerBuilder. Only 36 percent of workers said they have dated a co-worker. That’s down from 41 percent last year and 40 percent a decade ago.
Yet there still appears to be perceived benefits to having an ally in the office, romantic or otherwise. Overall, people in workplace relationships said they are more satisfied, productive and in better moods than their colleagues, according to a separate report by insuranceQuotes.
However, there is often a power dynamic at play, CareerBuilder found, and that’s where trouble can brew.
Thirty percent said they have dated someone who was at a higher level in the organization than they were. And more often, it’s men who are in the position with seniority. Thirty-five percent of female co-workers reported dating someone senior to them, compared with 25 percent of their male counterparts.
“Because of the power dynamic, it’s technically not consensual,” Taylor said.
Still, many cases go unreported. Eleven percent of nonmanagement employees said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the past 12 months, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. Of those, 76 percent said they did not report it for fear of retaliation among other reasons.
“According to the EEOC, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you have the legal right to be protected from discrimination in the workplace if your company has 15 or more employees. State laws or employer policies might also offer additional protections.”
That’s where human resources comes in. Thirty-two percent of HR professionals said they’ve changed their training, SHRM found, but employers need to be more clear about what behavior is appropriate and what won’t be tolerated going forward, Taylor said.
“In the past, we said it was inappropriate, now we’ve come to sexual harassment,” he added. “We have evolved.”