Women have held jobs like computer programming since the dawn of that technology. However, in recent years, many tech companies have fostered a culture that’s more like a frat house than a business. As a result, many women, people of color, and trans individuals have found it difficult to find work, achieve a fair rate of pay, and advance in their careers. Recently, the state of California sued one notorious tech company due to the pervasiveness of harassment in its culture.
Taking stock of the problem
The company at issue has had serious problems related to sexual harassment. Reportedly, one female worker died by suicide after serious harassment, including the circulation of nude photographs of her. As a result, many people on its staff have demanded change. They have been frustrated by their leaders’ lack of a serious response to this issue.
Even when the state brought a lawsuit, the response of the company was to insist that they were the ones being harassed. They portrayed themselves as the victims of a faceless bureaucracy that wants to stifle innovation. Clearly, there’s a lot of distance between the way the business leaders see themselves, and the way thousands of their employees experience the company culture.
Sexual harassment is illegal under the law. Much like race and age, sex is a protected characteristic. If an employer is discriminating against you because of anything that’s protected under the law, you have the right to seek legal recourse. Start by keeping a record of harassing incidents. These should include dates, times, and witnesses to the incidents. It may not be helpful to go to HR.
As the statement from this company shows, some businesses have a victim-blaming culture. It’s important to understand that HR will only seek to shield the company from a lawsuit, not to help you. Gathering evidence and considering a lawsuit are two of the most important steps you can take when you are being harassed.