The X-rated workplace

Half of the Fortune 500 companies have dealt with at least one incident related to computer pornography in the workplace over the past 12 months, according to a survey released in June.

Corporations are taking the problem seriously; survey respondents said that those responsible were fired in 44 per cent of the cases and disciplined in 41 per cent.

The survey was conducted by Delta Consulting, an Atlanta-based market research company. The respondents were executives from 50 of the Fortune 500 in industries, including manufacturing, retail, health care, banking/financial services and telecommunications. The individuals polled ranged from senior vice presidents to managers.

Of those polled, 74 per cent said they were fully aware that computer porn in the workplace can form the basis for employee claims of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. However, only 54 per cent described themselves as being totally cognizant that attorneys looking for evidence in such cases will first want to see a company’s records on Internet usage, e-mail traffic and images on hard drives.

“At the root of the issue, companies are liable. It’s their equipment and their employees,” said Alain Recaborde, principal of Delta Consulting.

Recaborde split the people polled into three groups. Twenty-five per cent, particularly those at the senior executive level, were very sensitive to the topic of computer porn at work and the legal issues surrounding it. But on the flip side, another 25 per cent didn’t seem to be aware of the issue or concerned about it. “Then, there’s 50 per cent in the middle who could go either way,” Recaborde said.

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