Recent accusations of serial sexual harassment levelled at Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein have prompted more open discussions about the experiences many women and men have in the workplace.
The hashtag #MeToo on social media has gained momentum with both women and men using this to highlight the scale of the problem worldwide. Twitter revealed this week that the #MeToo social media movement - which went viral after a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano - has extended to 85 countries, with 1.7 million messages posted using the hashtag. In the UK women have been encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the hashtag #itsrevolting.
According to a recent survey, October 2017 for BBC Radio 5 live by ComRes, half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study. Of the women who said they had been harassed, 63% said they didn't report it to anyone, and 79% of the male victims kept it to themselves. These figures support the findings of the Sky Data poll.
Sexual harassment, ranged from inappropriate comments to actual sexual assaults, at work or a place of study. More than a quarter of people surveyed had suffered harassment in the form of inappropriate jokes or "banter" and nearly one in seven had suffered inappropriate touching. The research, Still just a bit of banter? from the TUC and the Everyday Sexism Project, found that workplace sexual harassment can take many forms, from suggestive remarks or jokes about a colleague’s sex life to demands for sexual favours.
Closer to home, a further survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) indicated that Northern Ireland has the highest rate of sexual harassment in the workplace in the UK, with 17% of respondents saying they suffered at the hands of superiors, more than double the next highest figure for harassment of 8% for Scotland and London.
Who should solve the problem?
Everyone has a part to play. Companies often have lots of policies, procedures, guidance and training in place that nobody ever follows.
ACCA’s global president, Brian McEnery, says: ‘Ethics needs to be at the heart of company culture.’
Rachel Suff, CIPD employment relations adviser, said “Employers need to be promoting the importance of respect between employees at every level of the organisation, encouraging a supportive and inclusive culture so that people's behaviour reflects the right values.”
Vigilance is necessary. Workplace culture and effective leadership will play an integral part in promoting the values, ethics and behaviour that you want to see in your place of work.
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