TIME'S UP Impact Lab

Unsafe and Underpaid: New TIME’S UP Report Shows Ties Between Sexual Harassment and Pay Inequity

Equity, Impact Lab, Safety


Today, TIME’S UP Foundation released a new report, “Unsafe and Underpaid: How Sexual Harassment and Unfair Pay Hold Women Back,” which investigates the deep ties between sexual harassment and pay inequity across our culture, laws, and in private sector practices.

Today, COVID-19 has only exacerbated these inequities. The report follows the results of a national survey from TIME’S UP Foundation, which showed how the economic crisis and the existing pay gap have created staggering consequences for women’s health and economic circumstances.

“These two issues, pay inequity and sexual harassment, have often been presented as independent symptoms of a sexist culture, but they are actually co-conspirators,” said Andrea Flynn, the author of the report, and incoming director of the research and action hub at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “This report shows that where we are today was not inevitable, but rather the result of embedded cultural, legal, and employment norms that mutually reinforce one another.”

This paper makes the case that sexual harassment and pay inequities are integrally related; when women are paid little or are economically insecure, they are less likely to be able to leave jobs where they feel unsafe.

This is the second original research paper to emerge from TIME’S UP’s Impact Lab, which pioneers innovative research driving toward solutions to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace. The Impact Lab’s first report, Nevertheless, It Persists: Disrupting the Vicious Cycle of Institutionalized Sexism,” was released in July 2020.

“Women, especially women of color, have long been undervalued, a fact that has been made all too apparent right now,” said Rakeen Mabud, director of research and strategy at TIME’S UP Foundation. “Ensuring safe, fair, and dignified work for all women requires shifting cultural norms and addressing the structural barriers that have held generations of women back from reaching their full potential.”

After illustrating the links between safety and pay inequity, the paper offers a guiding framework for addressing these problems by: focusing on preventing sexual harassment before it starts and protecting workers when it happens; advancing equity for women by removing barriers to economic security and mobility; and increasing women’s representation, power, and dignity at work.

“Sexual harassment and the pay inequities are symptoms of structural barriers deeply embedded in our culture, policies, and employment practices,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Foundation. “Transformative change for women workers is not only necessary and just, but also smart. By investing in diverse and inclusive workplaces, leaders can emerge from these crises stronger and more resilient than before.”

Read the two-page summary here.


TIME’S UP Foundation

The TIME’S UP™ Foundation insists upon safe, fair, and dignified work for all by changing culture, companies, and laws. We enable more people to seek justice through the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund™. We pioneer innovative research driving toward solutions to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace through the TIME’S UP Impact Lab. And we reshape key industries from within so they serve as a model for all industries. The TIME’S UP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.