According to Brigham Young University, employees who view pornography aren’t just costing companies millions of dollars in wasted time, they’re increasing unethical behaviour.
A study published in the Journal of Business Ethics suggests that viewing pornography at work increases unethical behaviour. Given unethical employee behaviour is linked to a number of negative outcomes such as fraud and collusion – this research suggests that employee pornography consumption is putting organizations at risk as it could have a detrimental effect on mental health and also hypersexualise women in the workplace.
Unethical behaviour and pornography
The researchers conducted the experiment, including 200 participants and a nationally representative survey of 1,000 other individuals.
Participants were to complete a task and were measured if pornography consumption influenced their willingness to shirk work and lie about work performed—two common examples of unethical behaviour.
According to the study, the results of the experiment showed that participants shirk work and lie about work performed 21% of the time when they recalled their last experience with pornography and only 8% of the time when they recalled a non-pornographic situation. Thus, viewing pornography increased lying by 2.6 times—a sizeable and economically significant effect.
According to the researchers, viewing pornography could also lead to the rise of other unethical behaviours, as such content essentially has themes of dehumanising others. The researchers suggest that pornography consumption increases the viewer’s propensity to view others as objects or less than human.
Sexual harassment is more likely to occur
Authors, which include BYU accounting professor David Wood and former BYU graduate student Nathan Mecham, say because porn consumption causes dehumanisation, the incidence of sexual harassment or hostile work environments is likely to increase with increases in employee pornography consumption.
“If you have a larger portion of your employees that are consuming pornography at work, it’s likely changing their behaviours and those changes are likely negative,” Lewis-Western said.
“Regardless of your stance on pornography, most people want to be good employees, they want to be fair to men and women and they don’t want to be unethical.”
The researchers suggest companies take steps to reduce pornography consumption at the office, such as having internet filters and blocking devices and/or policies that prohibit porn consumption at work, with penalties.
“Almost everyone cares about the #MeToo movement and women, but if you care about that, then you have to care about this issue too,” Lewis-Western said. “If your manager is regularly watching pornography at work, then our research suggests that the way you are treated is going to be different in negative ways.”