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Sexual harassment allegations are down sharply since Harvey Weinstein first accused

#MeToo index shows dropoff in new claims
  • The "#MeToo Index" tracks high-profile sexual harassment allegations across a range of industries.
  • In May, the number of such accusations dropped to a record low, down from their peak in October 2017, when Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein first faced allegations of misconduct.
  • The arts and entertainment industry has generated the most harassment accusations, according to reputation management firm Temin and Company.

Good news, perhaps, for victims of harassment in the workplace. The number of highly publicized #MeToo accusations dropped to the lowest level last month since peaking in October 2017, when former Hollywood studio chief Harvey Weinstein was first accused of sexual harassment. That's according to the "#MeToo Index," which tracks what it calls "high-profile" accusations of sexual misconduct in entertainment, media, politics and other employment sectors. 

Twelve such accusations surfaced in May, down from 143 in October 2017, according to Temin and Company, a corporate reputation management and public relations firm that maintains the #MeToo Index. Temin attributes the steep drop in public accusations to a combination of factors, including companies' improved internal reporting systems and procedures for handling complaints.

"Organizations have become more savvy, so when they hear complaints they are quicker to investigate, address and handle them in some way, as opposed to ignore them," Davia Temin, the firm's CEO, said. 

Yet the decline could also reflect ongoing reluctance by many employees to report misconduct. Some victims of workplace sexual harassment may fear retaliation or backlash, Temin said. "Accusations are tough -- it's tough to put yourself on the line to make them. 

"There have also been false accusations out there that have spawned a backlash," she added. 

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A chart from Temin and Company shows how many high-profile #MeToo allegations were made each month beginning in October 2017. Allegations needed to be covered in seven media reports to be counted. Temin and Company

The arts and entertainment industry generated the most accusations -- 359 -- since October 2017. That doesn't mean professionals who work in that space are the worst actors. Yet such organizations often lack internal standards used to hold executives accountable. 

"They surface least in places where organizations have robust ways of handling it, because it doesn't necessarily seep out if you go to a hotline, through HR or the board," Temin said.

While women also commit sexual harassment, men are overwhelmingly accused. Of the 1,227 people identified as having been accused of some form of workplace misconduct since Temin and Company started tracking such cases, 97% were male and 3% were female. The average age of alleged harassers: 52.

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The #MeToo Index reflects people's experience across a range of industries, Temin said. Accusations must surface in at least seven media reports in order to be deemed high-profile enough to be included in the index. 

Temin describes the metric as part of an effort to end sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace -- and everyplace. "I want to make sure it continues in the right way and not the wrong way. In a way that will be good for both genders and make us most comfortable in the workplace so we can be our best selves," she said. 

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