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Eliminating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace - Safe Spaces & Workplaces Initiative Launched Today

Posted Tuesday, November 12, 2019 6:27 am

Earlier this year, Hawaii Employers Council spoke with Rachael Wong, founder and strategic advisor of One Shared Future, who shared her vision for Safe Spaces & Workplaces, a collaborative effort to eliminate workplace sexual harassment.

Safe Spaces & Workplaces Initiative officially launched today. The initiative was started by Rachael Wong and Karen Tan, chief executive officer of Child and Family Service. They participated in a news conference this morning to kick off the initiative.

The news conference highlighted key findings from a recent workplace sexual harassment survey of working adults, commissioned by the Safe Spaces & Workplaces Initiative. This was the first survey of its kind in the state to document workplace sexual harassment.

Sobering Results

More than half of the respondents in a recent survey—54.2%—have experienced workplace sexual harassment, and nearly half of the respondents, or 48.6%, said these experiences occurred in Hawai‘i.

“The sobering results show the extent of workplace sexual harassment in our islands,” said Rachael Wong. “The results validate our concern and provide baseline data to document the problem and identify next-step opportunities to preempt or mitigate workplace sexual harassment.”

The survey also revealed interesting insights into the problem of non-reporting: Only 18% of workplace sexual harassment victims told their respective human resources departments; 9% filed an official complaint such as a police report; 5% told their union or association about their workplace sexual harassment incident; and only 2% reported it to an external oversight group.

Opportunities for Employers

There were bright spots in the survey that revealed a path forward: A commitment from an organization’s leaders to address sexual harassment can create a more respectful workplace environment. The survey showed those respondents who believed their employers took workplace sexual harassment “extremely” seriously—44.3%—were statistically less likely to be sexually harassed compared to those who perceived that their employers took workplace sexual harassment only “somewhat” seriously—65.7%.

The survey included 607 adults in Hawai‘i, and results on the entire sample have a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.98 at the 95% confidence level and encompass the percentage in the overall population of Hawai‘i. A summary of the survey findings and the full survey report is available at

Next Steps

“Our goal is to provide training and other necessary resources for organizational leaders to reduce the likelihood of sexual harassment in their workplaces,” Wong said.

Safe Spaces & Workplaces will partner with HEC to kick off an information session for employers in the first quarter of 2020. Safe Spaces & Workplaces will also host a series of talk-story sessions statewide to gain more insight into the needs of employers to address workplace sexual harassment. Watch for more details.

Source:  Nathan Hokama, Safe Spaces & Workplaces Initiative

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