A new year begins and the thoughts of many Californians drift to what has happened in the last one. Employees' rights attorneys and social researchers point to one of the key trends of 2017: increased attention to sexual harassment and other types of insidious discrimination in the workplace.
The last year has seen an increase in attention to sexual harassment in society as many industries and protected groups are finally addressing decades-old traditions of women being treated poorly with inappropriate behavior. Stories of sexual misconduct have rocked high-tech innovation, venture capitalism and even the state government in Sacramento.
The stability and prosperity of California over the last few decades has been fueled by a workforce that increases in number and diversity with every passing year. This expansion, however, has brought increased caution to avoid discrimination or harassment in the workplace that would harm individuals and society at large.
Sexual harassment may be getting more attention in the national media of the United States recently, but it is far from a recent problem. Women and other populations have been facing pressure, discriminatory practices and physical abuse in workplaces and public spaces for decades and beyond.
Sexual harassment is more than a social problem between people when it enters the workplace. Inappropriate comments and behavior can begin a painful cycle that can destroy careers and corrode workplace morale far beyond the initial incident.
Sexual harassment has returned to the forefront of public conversation with the unfolding scandal around decades of systematic harassment of women in Hollywood. This matter has grown larger than the entertainment industry, as the increased focus is putting the spotlight on businesses unfriendly to women and other protected groups.
Sexual harassment is a scourge in every industry that it affects, destroying trust and hobbling productivity by abusing and demoralizing employees in the workplace. The problem can be as serious as physical or sexual abuse or as commonplace as unwelcome comments from co-workers or supervisors.
Sexual harassment is a major problem in many industries, and the consequences are far broader than workplace politics. Inappropriate speech and behavior reduces participation in the workforce, erodes faith in protective laws and slows innovation.
A female financial advisor sued her former employing firm for damages in her firing due to sexual harassment and related workplace violations. The complaint indicates a culture of sexual objectification and demeaning treatment along gender lines in the California office.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is an age-old problem in Silicon Valley and nationwide. What is new, however, is the number of women who are beginning to step forward and speak up, advocating for change in venture capital and technological industries.