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Build Your Career Office Life

Office Parties Rife with Unwanted Sexual Advances, Female Workers Say

Office Parties Rife with Unwanted Sexual Advances, Female Workers Say Credit: Dreamstime

Men are attempting to spread a little too much holiday cheer to their female colleagues, new research reveals.

More than 80 percent of the women surveyed in a WorkingMomsOnly.com study said a co-worker had made unwanted sexual advances toward them at a holiday gathering.

Eighty-six percent of them reported being surprised by the actions of the co-worker, and more than 60 percent reported that a supervisor was the one making the advances.

More often than not, the co-workers involved were married, and the research showed the come-ons seemed to negatively impact the colleagues' relationship once they returned to the office.

Despite the reality that most advances were unwanted, nearly 80 percent of those who had been approached did not report the incident to a supervisor. More than half of the women opted instead to discuss the incident with the person involved.

Regardless of the amount of training and awareness made available within companies today, sexual harassment is still an ongoing issue within organizationsacross the board, according to WorkingMomsOnly.com CEO and founder MaryEllen Tribby.

"With a down economy, many working moms are desperate to keep their jobs and the money they need to support their families," Tribby said. "Often, their fear of losing their job outweighs their desire to stand up for what is right."

While the advances are sometimes unavoidable, Tribby offers several tips to help women deal with being hit on by a co-worker.

  • Avoid drinking too much. Limit intake to no more than two drinks. You will be more aware of your surroundings and will be able to pick up on signs that something uncomfortable may occur.
  • Don’t spend too much time talking to one person, or any male colleague, who has been drinking too much.
  • If you don't have a date, bring a friend or relative along to the get-together.
  • Always remain in a group setting and don't go off alone with anyone, even if you know the person well.
  • Avoid getting into deep personal stories with co-workers.
  • If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, be direct and firm in insisting that you don't want their advances, even if the person is a supervisor and it causes a scene.
  •  If you are the victim of inappropriate behavior, report the incident immediately to the human resources department.
Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.