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Women in advertising commonly experience sexual harassment

The American Association of Advertising Agencies has released the preliminary results of a survey that shows sexual harassment is still common in the industry. Of the nearly 400 women who participated in its survey, readers in California may be shocked that more than 50 percent said they experienced sexual harassment at some point in their careers.

The survey leaned heavily toward managerial positions, including middle and senior management and other professionals. According to 4A, about 33 percent of the women in advertising say that superiors have overlooked them for assignments because of bias, and about 40 percent claimed they were excluded from relevant decision-making processes. Additionally, more than 50 percent admitted that they felt at least a little susceptible to discrimination.

These findings come at a time when sexual harassment in the workplace and the gender gap are concerns in the advertising industry. The executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi resigned after he suggested that a lack of ambition in young people is the reason fewer women have leadership roles. Before that, now former CEO of JWT, an ad agency, was sued on claims that he repeatedly made inappropriate rape jokes and used sexist slurs.

The CEO of 4A said that industry leaders brush off diversity and gender issues. Too many executives believe the problem is isolated and does not exist in their companies or at all. This is why the trade group released its survey results early, she added, to put an end to the denial. The full report is due to be published in the fall of 2016.

Employees, male or female, might not fully understand their rights when they experience sexual harassment or other types of discrimination. They could contact private employment attorneys to learn more and to seek guidance on the best course of action for their situations.

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