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Hostility and harassment against women and minorities increased with remote work during the pandemic

Business Insider logo Business Insider 4/1/2021 (Natasha Dailey)
  • Remote work amid the pandemic has had another impact: increased harassment, a new report said.
  • Those experiencing increased harassment were minorities, women, and nonbinary workers.
  • The harms "affect all workplaces, large and small, in all sectors," the study said.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a major shift in workplaces with many working from home, but that caused another shift: an increase in harassment and hostility toward women and minorities.

Project Include, a nonprofit that analyzes the tech industry, surveyed 3,000 people on how workplaces have changed, and found an increase in harassment and hostility, harmful work expectations, and anxiety.

"These harms draw from systemic issues of injustice and inequity, but also from specific outcomes of COVID-19, and they affect all workplaces, large and small, in all sectors, around the world," the report said.

Remote work has created its own set of problems and amplified long-standing ones in the workplace, the report said, adding that "harassment and hostility are taking new forms since the pandemic." And post-pandemic, remote work may be here to stay.

Those experiencing more harm as work moved online were more often women, nonbinary, Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and/or people over 50 years old, the report found.

Read more: Remote work can unlock productivity or push burnout. Here's how smart companies are planning for our 'hybrid' and WFH future.

These "harms" fall into two categories. The first is harassment, which includes yelling, uncomfortable or repeated questions about identity or appearance, dismissive attitudes, teasing put-downs, repeated requests for dates, groping, or quid pro quo requests for sex. The second category is hostility, which are "forms of harm that are less abusive than harassment and may not be considered abuse or against company rules."

A quarter of people surveyed said they have experienced gender-based harassment more often than before the pandemic, with nearly all of those respondents being women, genderqueer, or nonbinary.

As for race-based harassment, one in 10 people said they experienced an increase in harm, with 94% of those people being multiracial, Latinx, Asian, or Black.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many inequities in the workplace. For example, the unemployment rate for Black people rose more than for white people last spring.

Women, especially those who are minorities, were also disproportionately hurt by the pandemic as a result of layoffs. On top of that, many scaled back hours or left the workforce to juggle childcare and household duties.

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