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Work from home exacerbates harassment against some tech workers, survey finds

Meghan McCarty Carino Apr 1, 2021
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More than a third of workers surveyed by Project Include didn't expect their employer to address the harassment fairly. Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Work from home exacerbates harassment against some tech workers, survey finds

Meghan McCarty Carino Apr 1, 2021
Heard on:
More than a third of workers surveyed by Project Include didn't expect their employer to address the harassment fairly. Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The tech industry has long struggled to create more inclusive workplaces, and a new report says the widespread shift to remote work over the last year hasn’t helped matters.

Project Include, which advocates for diversity in tech, found underrepresented workers in the industry are experiencing greater stress and more incidents of harassment and hostility during the pandemic.

The survey of 3,000 tech workers found many experienced longer hours and anxiety. But women, people of color, transgender and nonbinary workers were more likely to report that they have been harassed, according to Ellen Pao, founder and CEO of Project Include.

“The problem is there’s systemic racism, there’s systemic sexism, there’s systemic bias,” Pao said.

And the transition to a digital workplace has brought with it some of the toxic culture of the internet, said Caroline Sinders, a design researcher and expert in online harassment who worked on the report. “We’re using tools designed for a business context. They’re not designed to mitigate harassment, they’re not designed to have moderation tools.”

Some remote tech makes it difficult to block people and stop abusive behavior, and the line between the personal and professional has blurred, said employment attorney Euell Thomas with Livelihood Law in Denver, Colorado.

“When people work from home sometimes they’re more casual, so they may think it may be more appropriate to make a certain joke they wouldn’t make in a physical workplace,” Thomas said.

The report found more than a third of respondents didn’t trust their employer to address harassment fairly.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.

How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?

Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.

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