The TUC has reported that half of women suffer discrimination, sexual harassment or sexist treatment at work. It found that 80% of women are too frightened, ashamed or embarrassed to report it. Or they felt it would not be taken seriously. Even fewer go to employment solicitors about the problem.
From a sample size of 1,500:
- More than half of women had experienced some form of discrimination, sexual harassment or sexist treatment
- A third reported hearing unwelcome jokes or comments, such as inappropriate comments about their sex life or clothing
- A quarter had experienced unwanted touching, eg kissing or hugging
- A fifth had put up with unwanted advances
- Only a fifth reported it to their employer
- More women reported that they had been treated worse than better as a result of reporting the harassment
- 1% reported that they had experienced a serious sexual assault or rape at work
In 20% of cases it was their direct line manager who was responsible. In only 3% of cases was a junior colleague to blame
Sexual harassment is unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating working environment.
It is rare that victims of discrimination, sexual harassment or sexist treatment take legal action such as a tribunal claim. A 2013 survey by a firm of solicitors found similar figures (60 per cent of women had experienced inappropriate behaviour from a male colleague in the workplace and nearly half had been warned to expect inappropriate behaviour from particular colleagues when they had started).
Comments by those surveyed included:
- “I’m struggling to find a job as a web developer because all male offices think a girl would be offended by their sense of humour.”
- “At the job I recently left, a male manager said to me (in front of a female manager) that I would do well in the organisation because I have big boobs.”
- “I don’t trust my manager to support me in this or similar situations and I’m actively looking to leave my current position because of this. I felt that my concerns had been dismissed”