March 21, 2018
New data show that just 39% of very small companies—those with fewer than five employees—have instituted formal policies related to sexual harassment in the workplace. However, since the #MeToo movement began, 5% of such businesses say they have fired or suspended an employee for inappropriate behavior(s).
That’s not all that many, but businesses on “Main Street USA” are becoming more aware: A CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey of more than 2,000 owners released at the end of February found that 50% of small firms overall have instituted a formal policy on how to handle harassment claims.
At businesses with zero to four employees, just under 40% had such policies, compared to 85% of businesses with 50 or more employees, the researchers found.
Eleven percent of businesses said they have issued company-wide communications to remind people of sexual harassment policies and reporting procedures, while 9% say they have reviewed policies around diversity and gender equality in hiring and promotion. In addition, 7% have required new or additional training, and 4% have rolled out new reporting procedures.
“This is one of those issues that entrepreneurs may tend to overlook, and it’s something that sneaks up on them,” said Karen Kerrigan, CEO of the nonpartisan advocacy group, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. “They may believe the culture they’ve established is one of respect, and that is enough to send a message that inappropriate behavior is unacceptable and it won’t happen in their workplace. But given the high-profile nature of the issue and how it has played out in every sector, that should be a wake-up call to business