The #MeToo movement is going to have a financial effect on businesses, according to a new study from FTI Consulting and Mine The Gap, a group that helps companies develop gender-inclusive work environments.
About half (49 percent) of the 4,764 professional women surveyed said that they would be less likely to make a purchase from a company facing MeToo allegations.
In addition, 50 percent said they would be less likely to purchase stock in a company with a public MeToo issue.
A sizeable, but smaller, number of men also said a company facing MeToo charges is one that they would be less likely to purchase from (38 percent) or invest in (43 percent).
When it comes to attracting new employees, MeToo is also making its presence known. About 55 percent of the women surveyed said they would be less inclined to apply for a job at a company facing allegations, with 42 percent of men in agreement.
“The research shows that professional women will wield their purchasing power and their talent as leverage for change,” said Elizabeth Alexander, senior managing director in the strategic communications segment at FTI. “For businesses to remain viable as the #MeToo movement continues to grow, entire industries need to look inward and overhaul policies, protocols, reporting mechanisms and trainings.”
Despite those reactions to the MeToo movement, the study’s respondents say that sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and unwanted physical contact are still a frequent occurrence. More than one in four of the women surveyed said they have experienced or witnessed unwanted physical contact in the workplace in the past year, with 19 percent saying they have personally experienced such an incident.
When those incidents occurred, more than four in 10 women (43 percent) say they did not report it, citing concern for negative career impact, of being viewed as “difficult” and fear of retribution as reasons. Men who have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment are more likely to report it, with 69 percent saying they did so.
The study also found that some groups of women are more affected by harassment than others. While 45 percent of white women in senior-level positions report that they have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment or misconduct, that number rises to 58 percent for women of color.
In addition, women working in the technology and energy sectors were more likely to have experienced sexual harassment or misconduct in the last five years.