Women’s failure to report harassment is often used as evidence that plaintiffs had other motives by employers, judges and juries; however, the fact of the matter is that just 25 percent to 33 percent of people harassed at work actually report the incident to a supervisor or union representative—only 2 percent to 13 percent file a formal complaint—according to a meta-analysis of studies by Lilia Cortina of the University of Michigan and Jennifer Berdahl of the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business.
“It’s made into such a big deal that you have to make a decision: Do you want to ruin your career? Do you want this to be everything that you end up being about?” said Ms Park, chief executive of Julep, a beauty company she founded.
In response to a recent New York Times report, Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, said: “No current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously” but “women who worked at Fox said they didn’t complain to human resources because they feared they would be fired,” reports Claire Cain Miller—apparently with good reason.
“Many victims, who are most often women, fear they will face disbelief, inaction, blame or societal and professional retaliation,” says Miller.
Cortia’s and Berdahl’s analysis found that the most common response is to avoid the harasser, play down what harassment or ignore the behavior. In fact, Berdahl explained, the more someone harasses, the less likely a woman is to complain because “it’s natural to conclude that if he’s been getting away with this for a long time, then the organization tolerates it, so why become the problem yourself by going to H.R.?”