NAVEX Global Workplace Harassment Benchmark Survey Demonstrates How Organizations are Addressing New and Growing Employment Law Challenges

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Multi-faceted Approaches to Prevention are Becoming More Common

To provide employees with a safe working environment, organizations need to establish and enforce policies against a wide range of harassment – which has evolved far past sexual harassment.

NAVEX GlobalTM today released its Workplace Harassment Benchmark Survey findings on emerging trends in harassment, retaliation, discrimination and bullying – the most pervasive, people-driven risks in the workplace. A cross-section of 500+ ethics and compliance professionals – including many from multinationals and Fortune 500 organizations – were surveyed on prevention measures and approaches organizations are using to cultivate trust and a safe working environment.

Key survey findings on emerging harassment trends include:

  • Sexual orientation (79 percent), religious (73 percent) and disability (71 percent) harassment are among the most common trends companies cover in their harassment prevention training.
  • 75 percent of organizations are actively training against retaliation claims. However, there has been an uptick in the number of retaliation claims over the past 12 months.
  • Around 23 percent of those who responded have also seen an increase in bullying claims over the last year, which may be due in part to only 50 percent of organizations training employees on bullying prevention.
  • Only 34 percent of respondents have a specific policy for handling harassment via social media.
  • Of employers with global employees, 58 percent are now providing harassment training to employees outside the U.S.

“To provide employees with a safe working environment, organizations need to establish and enforce policies against a wide range of harassment – which has evolved far past sexual harassment,” said Shanti Atkins, president and chief strategy officer of NAVEX Global. “Positive workplace culture relies heavily on employees’ ability to feel comfortable and respected, and should they be subject to harassment, the ability to report claims without any fear of retaliation.”

While 77 percent of organizations do not typically see harassment complaints followed by allegations of retaliation, there was an increase in the number of retaliation claims among responding companies in the last year – paralleling EEOC retaliation charge statistics’ steady increase over the past twelve years. Perhaps in response to this trend, Survey findings also show that half of all organizations are now using multiple platforms of training in order to combat retaliation in the workplace.

“As the definition of retaliation continues to expand, organizations are taking extra steps to minimize retaliatory behavior,” said Ingrid Fredeen, vice president with NAVEX Global’s Ethical Leadership Group. “The survey tells us that half of organizations are using a combination of encouraging open communication, monitoring employee actions, policy creation and distribution, disciplinary measures and dedicated training programs to decrease the likelihood of retaliation.”

In spite of the large majority of organizations who train against the more traditional forms of harassment and retaliation, it’s interesting to note that only 32 percent are actively training employees on social media harassment prevention. As social media becomes more engrained in everyday life, offering a more extensive and often insidious platform to engage in inappropriate behavior, it will become increasingly important for employers to educate their employees on the seriousness of cyber harassment and retaliation.

“Our study shows that 63 percent of organizations have a social media policy in place and for many, they may feel this is enough,” said Atkins. “However, without policies specifically addressing cyber harassment and retaliation, it can be unclear to employees what is even considered inappropriate and where the company stands on virtual misconduct. As the lines between personal and professional life are increasingly blurred, and the vast majority of employees are using personal handheld devices at work, employees need to be fully aware that workplace harassment via social media is seen as a real threat and will incur disciplinary actions.”

Conducted in March 2013, the NAVEX Global survey was completed by 512 professionals serving in ethics and compliance functions, including ethics and compliance officers, human resources, internal auditors, legal counsel and other senior executives.

The full Workplace Harassment Benchmark Survey is available on


NAVEX Global (
NAVEX Global is the trusted global ethics and compliance expert for more than 8,000 clients in over 200 countries – the largest ethics and compliance community in the world. A merger of industry leaders ELT, EthicsPoint, Global Compliance Services and PolicyTech, NAVEX Global provides a comprehensive suite of solutions to manage governance, risk and compliance (GRC), providing critical cross-program insights thorough unmatched expertise and actionable data.

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