Sexual harassment is an epidemic that has spread throughout all workplace environments. One of the leading areas in which sexual harassment is most prevalent is the financial industry. According to a recent survey, 1/3 of women in wealth management reported a high prevalence of sexual misconduct, and 1 in 3 women said that they have personally been a victim of unwelcome sexual conduct in the workplace. This can include inappropriate touching, questions, name-calling, jokes, and sexual innuendos.
The unbridled nature of sexual harassment in the financial sector is partly due to a “boys club” mentality where, “if you can’t be a man who engages in sexual banter, at least be a woman who doesn’t complain about it”. This culture of inclusion, where women feel the need to fit in or face further alienation from an already male-dominated field, has allowed sexual harassment to seemingly develop into an industry standard.
Also contributing to the culture of sexual harassment permeating the financial industry is the pay discrepancy between financial advisers, who earn between $150,000 and $450,000 a year, and the sales assistants (80% – 90% of which are female) who earn average salaries of between $45,000 to $50,000. Furthermore, female financial advisers earn just 59 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. Notably, this represents the widest wage gap of all 150 occupations tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This staggering wage differential between men and women in the financial industry contributes to a general atmosphere of disparity between the two genders and cultivates an environment where women feel they must endure comments and behavior that is otherwise unacceptable either to ensure the security of their careers or to advance them.
Men and woman in these industries also differ on how to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. While nearly 75% of female financial advisers say significant workplace changes are required, only 54% of male advisers agree with them. Furthermore, over 1/2 of women in the industry support increased sensitivity training, as compared to only 1/3 of men. Shockingly, 7% of men feel that no changes at all are necessary. While these different views on sexual harassment may be because men are less aware of the prevalence of it in the workplace, it may also be that men are aware of the conduct but view it less as a problem and more as an industry norm.
With a deep-rooted problem like workplace sexual harassment, real change may take some time. However, that does not mean that you or anyone you know should ever have to endure workplace sexual harassment. You have rights. Assert them. It’s important to note that it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you for complaining of workplace sexual harassment or for filing a lawsuit against them. Protect your employee rights by contacting a New York Employment Attorney today.