Do Matt Lauer and Louis C.K. Deserve to Return to Work? Women Answer in New Sexual Harassment Survey

Coworkers in meeting



It’s been two years since the watershed #MeToo movement began bringing high-profile perpetrators of workplace sexual harassment to justice. And in such a relatively short window, the magnitude of change that’s unfolded has truly been enormous, particularly regarding the widespread recognition of gendered power dynamics, the abuses of that power and what constitutes as acceptable workplace behavior. 

Or at least, it certainly feels like much has changed. But in Fairygodboss’ third annual survey of women on the state of sexual harassment in their lives and workplaces, it appears the trickle-down impact of #MeToo has been dismally low.

In the movement’s immediate aftermath at the end of 2017, Fairygodboss issued its first such survey, asking 500+ women to share their experiences and impressions around sexual harassment in the workplace. At the end of 2018, we conducted this survey again to get a pulse on what, exactly, had changed. And in October 2019, our most recent survey iteration found that 61% of women say things have ultimately either remained the same — or gotten worse — for working women in 2019. This, despite a slight increase in the number of women who say their company has created or updated its anti-harassment policies in the past year.

Download Report: Sexual Harassment In the Workplace

Interestingly, one finding that has changed in the past year is connected to women’s opinion of whether high-profile, celebrity perpetrators of workplace sexual harassment, like Matt Lauer and Louis C.K., deserve to ever return to their careers. Fifty-nine percent of women said the answer to this is no, up 11% from women who said the same in 2018. 

There’s also been an uptick in the rate at which women are reporting experiences of sexual harassment to their company’s HR. Last year, only 43% of respondents who’ve experienced harassment did this, and in 2019, 51% did. This greater utilization of HR may be connected to a similar uptick in the number of respondents who say their harasser was a manager or supervisor. For 2019 respondents who chose not to report their harassment, 41% said they reason they stayed silent was because the harassment came from their direct boss, up from 23% of women who said the same in 2017. 

What else has changed about the state of workplace sexual harassment since the birth of #MeToo? Download Fairygodboss’ full report to find out.