by Loren G. Edelstein | January 01, 2018
Here are verbatim responses to our recent research on sexual harassment. The following were added by respondents when multiple-choice questions allowed them to select "other" and provide write-in details. Click here to see the results by gender.
What other offending behavior(s) have you experienced? 
• Male exposing himself
• Unwanted sexual quid pro quoe, like "Blow job now...or you won't work here anymore."
• Witnessing all of [the behaviors cited in question] and told by seniors not to report or lose job if did
• Very revealing clothing - low-cut tops, high-rise skirts
• Threat of termination or lack of promotion
• Discipline-type actions when advances turned down
• Watching as attendees at my event looked me up and down like a piece of meat on display; overhearing attendees describe what they'd like to do to me sexually; being backed into an isolated corner in an attempt to kiss me; having members of my industry comment on my social media photos with things like "NICE BOOBS" ... and worse
• Requests for inappropriate photos
 
How did you handle incident(s) of sexual misconduct?
• Fired the offending service provider
• Removed myself from the situation [Editor's note: A number of respondents said this.]
• Depending on the situation, I often laughed it off or called them out, but usually it was enough to rebuff the offer.
• Avoided contact whenever possible or tried to outmaneuver the person
• By telling the person what they just said was inappropriate
• Laughed them off
• Handle differently today than 20 years ago. Today, head to security
• Confronted the individual and told them it wasn't appropriate
• Could not look at person
• Ignored the person/walked away.
• Worked past it and through it
• I have had friends or co-workers intervene on my behalf. In one instance, I quit the job in order to remove myself from the situation.
• Ignored it, told person it was ridiculous
• Tried to make light of it and move on, was able to remove myself from situation easily (many years ago)
• Could not have said anything or would not have been able to get any more work
• More often than not, I have to extract myself from the situation (at best) and try to laugh it off to avoid upsetting our attendees (at worst), as these things usually happen at events my company is hosting, and it would be an incredible burden to my team if they had to pick up my responsibilities if I either took the time to handle the situation or reacted as I would if this were in a nonprofessional setting.
• Spoke with HR
 
If you did not take any action, why not? 
• I dealt with it and it stopped. The person left me alone.
• Other colleagues were involved, and they also feared professional repercussions.
• I think a lot of straight men in the meetings industry sort of put off the "gay best friend" vibe. There have been so many men that I assumed were gay based on their comments/gestures (and I'm not trying to stereotype), things like "oh my gosh girl, you look so sexy" (followed by a kiss on the cheek and a tight hug). Then later I found out they were married. It's as if they thought it's just all in fun because we're such a "fun" industry. I kind of try to just shrug it off like, "Oh, they're just my friend, and it's innocent," but it makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm worried that if I say something, they'll think I'm overly sensitive or immediately defend themselves anyway. Then it will just get weird.
• After taking a stand and letting the person know I wasn't interested, it didn't happen again.
• Was not sure how to respond.
• Saying something would cause more commotion around the subject and possibly impact the event at hand.
• I didn't want to appear "too sensitive."
• I haven't always taken action. Sometimes it is just so embarrassing, as well as there are repercussions.
• I knew it would never be addressed in fairness or in my favor.
 
How did you handle incident(s) that occurred at your meetings? 
• It turned out twice that these alleged incidents were false. Bother complainants were in fear of their jobs and looking for a way out. They were eventually laid off.
• I would only call police if I had the consent of the victim.
• One of our guests was slipped a "roofie" [slang for a date-rape drug] at a bar in Orlando. It happened after the official corporate-sponsored event was over. When other guests noticed she hadn't returned from the rest room, they went to investigate and found her there. She said the last thing she remembered was not feeling well, going to the rest room and splashing cold water on her face. She looked in the mirror and a man was standing close behind her. She passed out, and hit her chin on the basin, causing cuts and bleeding. The other guests found her there and notified venue staff and took her to the hospital. I was notified after the fact.
• Person was sent home.
• Talked to my boss and reported to my human resource department, and let them handle it.
• I notify the leadership of the organization and allow them to handle.
• Took note of complaint
• I was not made aware of these reports until after the event was over.
• Varied with incident
• Was reported post-meeting. We escalated issue to internal HR.
 
In your personal experiences or those of your attendees, what actions were taken against the accused? 
• I'm not sure if the guest who was slipped the roofie notified authorities or not. I was asked to extend her stay at the host hotel for a couple of days until she felt better able to fly home, and we had one of her work friends/colleagues stay with her.
• Perpertrator was sent home early and HR file documented. Not sure what happened after that.
• Passed on to legal to determine path
• Sometimes even though you surface the issue to leadership it doesn't mean they will do ANYthing about it.
• Please. My industry runs on egomaniacal men who think their positions earn them the privilege of prioritizing their urges over others' autonomy. Sex is a weapon, and assaults are just a cost of doing business. It's a huge reason why I've been trying to get out of this business.
• Perpetrator was asked not to attend social functions at following year's event and was warned that further actions would lead to a ban from future meetings.
 
What else do you have to say about sexual harassment?
• You need to know that I am a gay male. Sexual harassment to me has been by a straight male harassing me publicly about my sexuality.
• Is the pendulum of actual or what are perceived to be social situations swinging too far? Also, are perceived situations that "may" have taken place 20 or 30 years ago being blown out of proportion in a person's vague memory, only because of today's spotlight on stupidity and those who engage in it because they think they can get away with it? (That fine line vs. actual reprehensible behavior.) An example might include one person coming in contact with another in a crowded elevator, at a party or even in a bus. All may be innocent, but misconceived. Dangerous times we live in.
• I'm frustrated that people (including such publications with these types of surveys) act like this is a new thing. This has always gone on, for ALL lines of work. It's not new or isolated to the meetings industry. Do we really need a survey to figure that out?
• Like so many things, the truth here is somewhere in the middle. The inappropriate comments I received were from men who I think genuinely didn't know better. It was a poor attempt at affirmation, or just ignorance. It's not my character to call out that sort of behavior. I represent the association. They are members. I have been able to occasionally say, "hey now, be careful with that." There's obviously much worse happening to other people, and in those cases, yes, it is time for this reckoning.
• I am sure this takes place, but now that it is so publicized by the media, a lot of people will be wrongly accused.
• There is no place for any form of harassment in any industry!
• There is not enough mentioned that this is a power phenomenon and not gender-based. Women are just as guilty of abusing their power against men and other women.
• As a woman who has been in the work force for over 30 years, I find it difficult to believe that in any circumstances it is okay to bring up things that happened more than a year ago. If you let it slide 10 years ago you have no right to come out now. It seems more of a witch hunt to me.
• There has to be a definite difference between someone showing genuine interest in another or actual sexual harassment. It becomes very difficult for single people to actually date for fear of being wrongly accused.
• At receptions when people have too much to drink, there are blurred perceptions.
• I work in a strip club, so we get violent.
• I do not consider direct/obvious flirting as "sexual harrassment." I think definitions are getting blurred as to what true harassment is.
• Women have dealt with being marginalized, objectified, harassed, not taken seriously, etc., for all of my working life (since the mid 1980s). Women have been objecting to all of this treatment since then, and just brushed off, made to feel stupid, blamed, etc., by management. Those management reactions don't mean that this wasn't happening then, and it's still happening now. I'm glad that women are coming forward and speaking out. When a country's culture decides it's okay to marginalize, objectify, harrass and not take seriously 50 percent of its population, it not only is a problem; it's a loss for that country of revenue, ideas and intelligence from its members who might have contributed more but were made to feel "less than." We need a huge culture shift. We need people to recognize that diversity, politeness, manners and treating others well isn't weakness, but the best kind of strength.
• Damn well about time AND we also need to be aware of sex trafficking that goes on at conferences, events, sporting events and in hotels.
• I think inappropriate behavior in the workplace happens often, but I am not sure we can completely eliminate it. Harassment/intimidation is different than inappropriate attitudes and comments. I am glad that so many people are exposing reprehensible behaviors.
• I don't want it to become a witch hunt. But this is an area that has gone on far too long. In addition to sexual harassment training, I also want to see training as to how women (or men in less frequent cases) should handle sexual harassment. When I was younger and less confident in myself, I would giggle nervously, push hands away and then try to get away as soon as possible. Better: training women how to be very intentional in handling sexual harassment. This needs to be part of harassment training. #metoo
• As difficult as this topic is, there is guilt on both sides, as women have suffered but some have also manipulated their situations. Watching some of that manipulation has caused me to refrain from judgement or overreaction. I am disappointed now that "some" may be indicted without benefit of determination of fact, and some negative defensive environment will arise from the "building" of conditions that may regrettably affect the workplace at every level.
• I think harassment shouldn't be tolerated, however I think it is important that there is due process involved. I'm concerned that there is a bit of a witch hunt going on right now, and people are assumed guilty. While I understand that it can be hard for some victims to speak up, it really concerns me that so many claims come so many years later, and then after someone else complains first. If someone is guilty, I think they should face the consequences, but I'm leery about rushing to judge too quickly.
• I don't know where else to add this but I'm glad you're addressing this issue. It's a relief and a step in the right direction to finally see an organization within this sector address sexual harassment.
• Too many insecure women; some advances warranted
• We have erred on all sides of the issue as every incident is unique - uniform handling may be most unfair.
• Sexual advances have no place in the workplace or in meetings. And people do not lie about sexual harassment. I'm disgusted that those are even clickable options in this survey.
• I am glad that this issue is coming to light and discussion. However, 30-year-old incidents are not the ideal. And the line between actual (threatening) harassment and inappropriate behavior has been greatly blurred. It is unfortunate that the issue is so murky that real resolution might not be addressed.
• Also important, as a vendor I have been bullied for years by female corporate clients to lower pricing in order to receive RFP for future work. Many corporate meeting planners drink excessively while on program, manipulate hotels to give them suites  and room gifts, in addition to inviting spouses or friends to join them on program without their bosses knowing. Next phase of abuse that will come out is corporate bullying where women are also guilty offenders. Complaints are now being submitted to SEC, Elizabeth Warren and the media.
• While there should be attention brought to these types of actions, there is a feeling of a witch hunt going on. People are still innocent until proven guilty, but it's about time that these injustices are brought to light.
• I fear [this situation] has always existed since it is glamorized in so many of the publications, movies and TV shows. It is finally coming back to bite us.