This post is the first in a three-part series on a national survey commissioned by Ekdesk on workplace harassment, including how widespread it is, why it’s under-reported, what impact it has on employees and employers, and what steps organizations can take to address it. If you’d like to discuss our survey findings, please send us an email.

Workplace harassment has serious consequences for both workers and their employers. An employee who’s harassed may quit a job, for example, a move that can permanently set back a career. For their part, employers collectively spend billions in anti-harassment efforts and many billions more in related legal, turnover, and reputational costs. But just how common is harassment in U.S. workplaces? How many employees experience it? More, how many employees see their colleagues experiencing it? To answer these questions and get a sense of the scale of the problem, Ekdesk commissioned a national survey of U.S. workers at employers with >100 employees (a population of ~80M workers).

Workplace harassment is common and takes many forms.

We first asked respondents about their own experiences with workplace harassment. The results show that a large share of workers have experienced harassment, including conduct ranging from offensive jokes to sexual assault.

Question: Which of following have you personally experienced in the workplace?


Many workers see harassment happening to others.

Harassment frequently occurs in plain view–many respondents reported witnessing colleagues being subjected to the same types of misconduct. In fact, for every category of harassment included in our survey, more respondents reported witnessing the conduct than experiencing it. The differences between witnessing and experiencing harassment were particularly high when the conduct related to race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Question: Which of following have you seen others experience in the workplace? 


When it comes to harassment, not all industries are the same and not all employees are similarly at risk.

These results show that harassment is very common, and widely witnessed, at mid- to large-sized employers. The data suggest, however, that the burden of harassment falls more heavily on some workers, particularly women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community. Harassment also occurs more frequently in some workplaces than in others. In the restaurant industry, for example, two thirds of women and half of men have experienced sexual harassment from managers, while 80% of women and 70% of men have experienced it from coworkers. In the next installment of this four-post series, we explore the consequences harassment has for those who experience it and their employers.

Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted by Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco. Survata interviewed 413 online respondents between August 09, 2018 and August 30, 2018. Respondents were reached across the Survata publisher network, where they take a survey to unlock premium content, like articles and ebooks. Respondents received no cash compensation for their participation. More information on Survata’s methodology can be found at

About Ekdesk: Ekdesk provides software and services for creating equitable workplace. Its products include Case Manager for documenting workplace issues, Sonar for detecting, deterring, and measuring workplace harassment, and Diamond for identifying untapped internal talent.

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