Number of harassment and discrimination reports fall in Ohio businesses

Adithi Iyengar, Contributing Reporter

Good news for business employees in Ohio: The number of harassment and discrimination charges in Ohio businesses decreased seven percent in 2013.

This figure comes from a recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) report. The EEOC is an organization responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee due to a person’s ethnicity, sex, age and disability. They have the power to investigate charges of harassment and discrimination.
According Dr. Marilyn S. Mobley, vice president for the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at Case Western Reserve University, this drop in number of charges could be due to the increased awareness about these issues.

Mobley says that Ohio businesses may be increasing their efforts on raising awareness about these issues in the workplace.

“Providing information doesn’t necessarily prevent the problem, but it decreases the likelihood of it occurring,” she said.

She also stated that Ohio businesses and organizations provide more training and commitment from the top down to tackle these critical issues, thus resulting in a raise of awareness.

The information from the EEOC was summarized by The Network, a governance, risk and compliance (GRC) solutions provider that helps organizations create better, more ethical workplaces.

Jimmy Lin, vice president of Product Management and Corporate Development at The Network noted that there was actually increase in sexual harassment reports in 2012, but now Ohio is on the right track.

According to Lin, the best way to tackle the issue is to implement up-to-date training programs in these businesses, including periodic education as well as follow-up awareness learning. It can’t be done as a “once and done” exercise.

Lin also stated that Ohio is slightly ahead of the nation when it comes to harassment and discrimination in Ohio businesses. According to him, in 2013, the nation as a whole experienced a 6.5 percent decrease. This is slightly slower than Ohio’s seven percent decrease.

While there has been significant progress over the years, there is still a lot of work to be done. According to the Network, Ohio still makes up 3.3 percent of the total U.S. harassment reports.