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Survey finds many insights about workplace gender inequality

Many workers in New York have probably overhead inappropriate comments about people of the opposite sex but felt unable to do anything about it. A survey conducted by Ranstad US of 1,227 workers found that half of respondents failed to speak up after someone directed an inappropriate comment at a colleague. Most people did not know what they could personally do to improve gender equality at work.

When asked what might help, however, many respondents recognized that mentoring female workers and male workers standing up for gender equality would be steps in the right direction. About half of respondents said that their workplaces did not have any programs aimed at improving careers for female employees.

One-third of respondents indicated that they had witnessed people in authority making a negative impact on gender relations at work. They had seen powerful people at work harass their opposite-sex subordinates. Almost one-quarter of female respondents expressed a belief that refusing romantic requests had damaged their careers. Minorities suffered more often than Caucasian workers: Among African-Americans, 42 percent said that they had lost opportunities after turning down sexual advances from supervisors. The same was true for 36 percent of Hispanics whereas only 24 percent of Caucasians reported this experience.

Although laws are in place to protect people from sexual harassment and employment discrimination, a person being mistreated at work may not know how to respond. A consultation with an attorney may allow a person to understand workplace rights and decide on a course of action. An attorney might recommend filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or taking the employer to court. Legal representation may help a person receive a proper investigation of workplace complaints and initiate negotiations for a settlement.

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