The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is taking a proactive approach to sexual harassment in the workplace. They recently released a statement noting that, while there are no reports of extensive harassment in veterinary medicine, it is recognized that sexual harassment affects all walks of life and no profession is immune. As a result, they are introducing a resolution to assess the prevalence of sexual harassment within the veterinary profession.
In justifying the resolution, the AVMA cited findings from Medscape’s Sexual Harassment of Physicians Report 2018. A survey of 3,700 physicians found that 12 percent of female physicians and four percent of male physicians had been sexually harassed on the job during the prior three years. More than half of physicians who experienced sexual harassment reported that it was another physician who made unwelcome sexual advances. Nearly 14 percent of the victims who were harassed ended up quitting their jobs. In more than half of the reported cases, no action was taken, or the perpetrator’s actions were trivialized.
The AVMA has a policy in place to help veterinarians prevent sexual harassment and discrimination. However, research shows that just having a policy is not enough. Conducting confidential surveys of employees can expose what is really going on and reveal the extent to which a company culture creates a climate that enables harassment to continue.
Sexual harassment in the workplace continues to occur within all types of industries and professions.