Home / Blog / Article


February 26 2018

Poll: Most Inappropriate Office Behavior is Not What You Think It is

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

What do you think is the most inappropriate office behavior? You'd be surprised to know that most Americans say it's gossip.

NPR and Ipsos polled thousands of workers about the spectrum of a dozen inappropriate workplace behaviors from flirting to deliberating touching at the end of January. They found that gossiping about other co-workers' sex lives overwhelmingly topped the list. Supervisor behavior comes in at number six on the list.

As the national conversation focuses on harassment in the workplace, it's interesting to hear from Americans what they think is inappropriate, what they have encountered themselves, and what they themselves admit to doing.

What is always, mostly, or somewhat inappropriate in the workplace:

  1. Spreading rumors about coworker's sex life97 percent

  2. Discussing coworker's sexual preference, history93 percent

  3. Deliberate touching, leaning, or cornering 93 percent

  4. Telling sexual stories or jokes 91 percent

  5. Referring to a female as a girl, babe, sweetie, etc. 83 percent


9. Male commenting on female's appearance 49 percent

10. Female commenting on male's appearance 46 percent

12. Co-worker asking equal rank co-worker on date 30 percent

Just because a worker says a behavior is not appropriate for the office, it doesn't mean that it doesn't occur or that they themselves have not engaged in the behavior.

Five most common inappropriate behaviors workers have observed:

  1. Male commenting on female's appearance – 72 percent

  2. Asking about coworker's social life – 70 percent

  3. Female commenting on male's appearance – 65 percent

  4. Referring to female as girl, babe, sweetie etc. - 58 percent

  5. Telling sexual stories or jokes – 55 percent

Five most common inappropriate behaviors workers admit to:

  1. Asking about coworker's social life – 41 percent

  2. Female commenting on male's appearance – 26 percent

  3. Male commenting on female's appearance – 23 percent

  4. Coworker asking equal-rank coworkers on date – 17 percent

  5. Telling sexual stories or jokes – 15 percent

The pollsters recognize that self-reporting makes it likely that respondents will lie or hide their own behavior. That could explain how the behaviors they admit are so much lower than what they have observed.

However, a good question to consider is how much the #MeToo movement has caused people to rethink how they work and view inappropriate behavior at work? If for the better, then that's a positive benefit of this movement. Social change is difficult and even with civil rights and employment laws and workplace rules on the books, misconduct has persisted for decades – perhaps until now.

 

##

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
Follow us