Research by the gender campaigning organisation, the Fawcett Society, has found that almost half of all women (40 per cent) have experienced harassment at their place of work.

The report also found that:

  • Women who are marginalised for other reasons, such as race or disability, are at even greater risk of sexual harassment
  • Almost a quarter of women who had been sexually harassed said the harassment had increased since the start of the pandemic
  • Almost seven in ten disabled women (68 per cent) reported being sexually harassed at work, compared to 52 per cent of women in general
  • Ethnic minority workers (women and men) reported higher rates (32 per cent) of sexual harassment than white workers (28 per cent) over the last 12 months
  • A poll of LGBT workers found that 68 per cent had experienced some form of harassment in the workplace.

The report makes a number of recommendations with an emphasis on two main areas. The first focuses on the need for employers to create and communicate a strong and demonstrable commitment to tackling sexual harassment throughout their organisation’s culture. The second focuses on the need for employers to introduce an employee-centred reporting and response process. Without both of these components, Fawcett argues that any effort to challenge and prevent sexual harassment will not work.

In other words, employers need a multi-pronged approach. This must include efforts to change their organisation’s culture, make changes to the sexual harassment policy (or introduce one), ensure effective anti-sexual harassment training reporting routes and good employer responses. Fawcett argues that it is only by adopting this proactive approach that effective action in one area will reinforce good action in another, thereby creating a virtuous circle.

The report was compiled from three evidence sources - a literature review of what works to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace; a call for evidence from women who had experienced sexual harassment, with 290 responses; and a survey of 236 managers.

To read the report in full, click here.