On February 12, Blind joined the public’s #MeToo conversation when it opened a channel for users to anonymously discuss workplace harassment and discrimination. In the following week, Blind sent out a survey asking users if they had ever experienced or witnessed sexual harassment on the job. Just under 1,200 Blind users responded and the results reveal that an overall 31 percent did experience or witness harassment of a sexual nature.
The following chart depicts the survey data for the 10 tech companies whose employees submitted the most survey responses.
With 31 percent of surveyed Airbnb employees having answered yes to experiencing or witnessing harassment, this result mirrors Blind’s overall survey average of 31 percent that answered the same. Microsoft, Snapchat, and Amazon follow closely behind. Similar nationwide polls show comparable results. MSN asked a survey group if they had experienced sexual harassment at work. Thirty-one percent said yes. A separate poll conducted by YouGov asked people if they had witnessed a colleague being sexually harassed at work. Twenty-five percent of US adults said yes.
One unexpected finding from Blind’s survey is that 43 percent of participants who work at Salesforce report having experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace. Even more surprising is that only 8 percent of users from Uber, a company infamously accused of bro culture, claims to have experienced or witnessed the same kind of behavior. Does this mean Uber has changed its ways? Or is the alleged sexism so embedded in the company culture that unwanted sexual advances are failed to be recognized or taken seriously?
One possible explanation for Uber’s result might be gender, something that may also clarify Salesforce’s result. More women tend to experience sexual harassment than men. YouGov claims that 15 percent of men and 30 percent of women have been subject to workplace sexual harassment. According to a poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, 48 percent of working women have experienced harassment. Surveys that focus on women in tech report even higher numbers. Sixty percent of women have experienced sexual harassment based on one study. Another poll reports that “78% of female tech founders have experienced sexual harassment themselves or know someone who has.” How many male and female employees responded to Blind’s survey? Did more men from Uber respond than women? Did more women from Salesforce respond than men? A gender breakdown would shed more light on Blind’s survey results but due to the anonymity of the app’s users, this information is not available.
Blind is just one of many companies that has tried to get an idea of how often sexual harassment occurs in the workplace. Current statistics vary depending on who was surveyed: women, men, the general population, or employees from specific industries. Even when comparing results from similar groups, percentages can vary by margins of 10 or more. The difference between NBC and YouGov’s percentages of harassed women is just one example (see above). But this is understandable considering that sexual harassment is hard to define and thus hard to measure. What one person might believe is inappropriate conduct, another might deem harmless behavior. Because of this, one has to wonder how reliable the results from sexual harassment surveys really are. Though people might have a difficult time agreeing on what constitutes sexual misconduct, something that might be easier (and good) to agree on is that even one case of sexual harassment is too many.
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Chart of General Survey Results:
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Chart of Survey Results by Tech Company:
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