Survey Reveals Endemic Workplace Sexual Harassment



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Survey Reveals Endemic Workplace Sexual Harassment

A new survey on workplace sexual harassment by law firm Slater and Gordon has found that one in six women have had colleagues look down their blouse. Furthermore, almost 50% have received comments about their breasts in the workplace and one in eight have resigned from their jobs due to workplace harassment.

Interestingly, the study suggests that sexual harassment applies to both men and women, with almost 40% of men reporting uncomfortable experiences.

With some 60% questioned saying that they have kept quiet about a possible harassment incident, this makes workplace sexual harassment a very common yet fairly invisible problem. Victims are often in a vulnerable position, scared of losing their jobs or damaging their careers, and many choose not to rock the boat and just accept comments or advances as a result of their employment.

The Everyday Sexism Project has found that perpetrators of workplace sexual harassment are often older and more experienced and often make it near impossible for those being harassed to complain.

Some of the comments received by the Everyday Sexism Project have included the following:

“A guy at my work told me he’d get me fired if I didn’t have sex with him. His brother was the boss”

“When a customer at work tried to reach his hand down my shirt, I wasn’t taken seriously by any of my co-workers”

“Saw my hours cut every time I complained to a manager about the co-worker who sexually harassed me and then threatened me”.

The study concludes that sexual innuendo and physical approaches (for example, having a bottom pinched in the workplace) are often considered “just a bit of fun”, which makes it even harder for victims to speak out against their colleagues or managers.

Some of the evidence submitted to the Everyday Sexism Project is very shocking and graphic. It is a sad state of affairs that such instances are overly common and often brushed under the carpet, everybody in the UK workplace is legally protected from sexual harassment or subsequent victimisation and bullying. Every year thousands of sexual harassment incidents are reported online to the Everyday Sexism Project, yet a significant number of these victims say that they are unable to speak up either for fear of not being taken seriously or of losing their jobs. The latter concern is particularly heightened during a long-lasting recession.

Employers need to take workplace sexual harassment seriously, consider the legislation which is in place to protect victims and take action against perpetrators of this insidious workplace behaviour.