1in 5 Women are harassed in the workplace

HR Magazine on 25.10.17 reported that 1 in 5 Women are harassed in the workplace.

  • What actions can we take to ensure that people know what harassment is and that we will support them if they are feeling harassed?
  • What actions are we prepared to take to educate our staff about what constitutes harassment?

The Office Culture found that more than 2.5 million women report being a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. One in four (27%) women have been victims of sexism at work.

However, a third (33%) of female sexual harrassment cases reported to someone in the business were not followed up, while a fifth (18%) were not even acknowledged, according to the report. It also found that two-thirds (67%) of women who have experienced harassment don’t report it to their company.

The survey comes as high-profile allegations of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace  particularly the entertainment industry, dominate headlines.

Sue Evans, former head of HR and OD at Warwickshire County Council and director of Sevans Refreshing People, said HR professionals in all sectors have a crucial responsibility to stamp out sexism and harassment.

“It is not enough to provide empathy and support; HR must make sure that negative behaviours are noticed and individuals made aware of the impact of them on others,” she told HR magazine. “Much of it starts as  casual sexism – sometimes people don’t even notice but it undermines and corrodes as surely as overt racism and sexism and bullying. You will have heard the excuses: ‘it’s just banter’, ‘where’s your sense of humour?’ ‘it’s his way’... Well it’s not just banter, it is not funny and if that’s ‘his way’ he needs to change it.

“Letting this go allows for it to become accepted and devalues the whole diversity of the workforce – it is an insidious form of harassment, made all the more potent through lack of action,” Evans added.

“It is no good just having policies  in place; a successful business that attracts, motivates and retains the finest needs a culture where individuals feel comfortable in speaking out both for themselves and for others,” she said. “It is HR’s role to support and encourage people to be the best they can be in every way and that includes eliminating immoral complicity. HR needs to be alert, speak out and support those who do.”

Opinium Research's survey also found that appetite to report racist, ageist or homophobic abuse is similarly low. Only half (55%) of those subjected to racial discrimination have reported such incidents to somebody in their company.

Ageism is the least discussed, with almost three-quarters (72%) of incidents going unreported. Additionally, a quarter (25%) of reports of ageism were not acknowledged. Similarly, with reports of homophobia, more than a third (43%) of cases were not dealt with.

The research coincides with a Radio 5 live survey of 2,031 British adults, which found that 37% of those asked –53% of women and 20% of men – said they had experienced sexual harassment at work or a place of study.

If these things resonate with you, then please consider how you can support people in your workplace to feel that they can bring such issues to your attention. Also consider how you set the culture and atmosphere in your business when recruiting and attracting candidates.  As you bring new people in to your organisation, you can really influence how people feel in your business.  We should be aiming to make them feel that they can talk to us about any incidents of inappropriate behaviour towards themselves or that they observe against others.  We should check in with our work force with employee surveys, we should create ways that they can communicate with us on these matters anonymously, we should conduct exit interviews on each and every employee who leaves us.

Better People aligns itself with highly qualified employment law and HR specialists so we are always able to support our clients attract and manage their employees in the best way.

Better Peoples’ Mission Purpose and Intent is to support our clients by taking the fear out of recruitment and guiding them through the recruitment and retention process.


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