Report: Nearly half of Hawaii employees have faced sex harassment

Updated: Nov. 12, 2019 at 5:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly half of Hawaii’s working adults say they’ve been sexually harassed on the job, according to a new comprehensive survey.

In the first study of sexual harassment in Hawaii’s workplaces, the Safe Spaces & Workplaces Initiative found that 52 percent of all women said they’ve been sexually harassed at work.

Some 42 percent of the men surveyed said they were harassed.

The study also found less than 1 in 5 reported the harassment to their human resources departments.

“The sobering results show the extent of workplace sexual harassment in our islands,” said Rachael Wong, co-founder of the Safe Spaces & Workplaces Initiative.

Wong herself was involved in one of the most publicized cases of sexual harassment in Hawaii.

Two years ago, she filed a sex harassment complaint against former state House Speaker Joe Souki, who was later forced to resign from the Legislature.

In reporting the harassment, Wong was in the minority.

According to the report, most cases ― about 82 percent ― go unreported.

“Some people said they didn’t think it was serious enough, some felt embarrassed ― ashamed ― and that it would be too emotionally difficult. Some did not want to get the person in trouble," said Makana Risser Chai, founder of Respect WorkSpaces.

“And some said they didn’t think anything would be done.”

Organizers say the survey is just the first step of getting to understand the scope of the problem in Hawaii. They also will be working with Hawaii employers to provide training.

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