When the NJCASA team reviewed responses to our survey on sexual harassment and misconduct in New Jersey’s political arena, one written response stuck out: “It’s everywhere. It’s everything.”
We launched our Survey on Misogyny & Sexual Misconduct in N.J. Politics earlier this year to learn more about the prevalence of sexual violence in the State House, political campaigns, lobbying, and everywhere in-between. After receiving and analyzing more than 500 survey responses from those who have worked or volunteered in N.J. politics—including registered lobbyists, elected officials, partisan political operatives, and county and state government employees—we’re sharing the results in our new report, “It’s Everywhere. It’s Everything.”
Our report reveals that sexual harassment and misogyny in government and politics continue to run rampant, in Trenton and beyond:
- 57 percent of survey respondents indicated they had experienced harassment during their time working in N.J. politics.
- Of the ten surveyed occupations, respondents indicated experiencing sexual misconduct from elected officials at the highest rates (22%).
- 23 percent of respondents indicated experiencing “verbal remarks of a sexual nature,” closely followed by “sexist or misogynistic comments” (22 percent) and “unwanted touching” (15 percent). 3 percent of respondents indicated that they experienced sexual assault or rape.
- Respondents overall indicated low knowledge of how to report misconduct or harassment.
These findings underscore the need to confront gender inequity and sexual violence in N.J. politics and government. We know that much work lies ahead of us—and with that in mind, we outlined key recommendations and next steps for leaders to consider, including:
- Increased education and training, with a focus on information about sexual violence, how to respond to a disclosure of sexual violence, and how to report misbehavior. While we recognize that more decentralized professions (e.g. lobbyists) likely have less regular touchpoints than others, leaders in these spaces can work together to find annual events where this type of training can be implemented.
- Strengthening and establishing basic structural supports and resources, including: a standardization of human resources response; a nonpartisan reporting system that removes partisan politicking from investigation and response; and adaptive response systems that allow those who have been harmed to make decisions about the type of investigation that will occur based on the outcomes they wish to achieve.
- Investing in cultural change and accountability, wherein those who intervene or speak up in toxic situations are praised, not punished; rejecting harmful norms, through zero tolerance policies and placing the onus on every single one of us to call out harmful behavior when we see it.
NJCASA is committed to continuing our work to create safer spaces for everyone involved in N.J. politics. By promoting respect and equity in the workplace, we help build a political scene in the Garden State that is more wholly reflective of its constituents.
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