Due to the psychological and mental health damage harassment causes to victims, businesses, governments and the society suffer, too. Many studies have found that the experience drives women to leave their jobs, taking their ideas, connections, and potential with them. This leads to a costly need to hire and train new employees. There is also evidence that it can hurt the cohesion and functioning of teams. Companies stand to lose valuable employees if they don’t work to eliminate sexual harassment.
A pionieering study in the US who attempted to calculate the costs of sexual harassment, demonstrates how the economic costs of workplace sexual harassment are shared by individuals, their employers, government, and society. In 2018, this model estimated the costs due to around 3.5 billion USD (combined lost productivity, legal and medical costs). The largest loss of productivity – staff turnover, 32% of costs – results in lost income to individuals, lost profits to employers, and reduced tax paid to the government. Significant losses also result from absenteeism (28% of costs), and manager time (24% of costs). Approximately two thirds of lost productivity (70%) is borne by employers, with government (23%) losing tax revenue, and individuals (7%) losing income. The largest share of lost productivity was experienced in the 25-34 years female age group. This is due to the high rates of harassment experienced by individuals in this group, and occurs despite the average weekly earnings in this group being lower than the national average.
Keep in mind, that aside from the lost productivity and staff turnover, if a courageous victim of your business goes public, accusing the business or organization of allowing sexual harassment to happen, the business reputation suffers, which in turn, harms the turnovers even further. These costs are almost impossible to foresee or calculate.
The safer our workplaces, teams and businesses are for employees, the more productive, richer and happier we are as a society. Makes sense, right?
That’s what even governments realize. Most recently, the Greek government introduced a new law, prompting employers to comply with international standards and obliging them to commit to ensuring safe working environments for their employees.