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What is the best way of tackling sexual harassment at work?
According to a Workingmums.co.uk poll the most favoured way was to encourage everyone to call out bad behaviour when they witness it – 35% chose that. One way of supporting this is through bystander workshops that focus on how everyone can make a difference to workplace culture.
A quarter of those polled said providing a helpline to call was a top priority. One woman said: “By providing a hotline to call, you are enabling someone who is being harassed to confide in somebody.”
Some 17% said it would be better to celebrate positive male role models and 16% said it was more important to get more women into senior roles. The remainder favoured a range of other approaches.
There has been a lot of attention on sexual harassment and sexism in general in the workplace in the wake of the revelations of systematic abuse of women by Harvey Weinstein, although most has focused on Hollywood and politics.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission last week announced that it had written to Chairs of the FTSE 100 and other leading employers saying it will take legal action where there is evidence of systemic failing in preventing, or dealing with, sexual harassment.
The EHRC has asked employers to supply evidence of what safeguards they have in place to prevent sexual harassment, what steps they have taken to ensure that all employees are able to report instances of harassment without fear of retribution and how they plan to prevent harassment in the future.
The letter explains that, where the Commission discovers evidence of systemic failings, it will consider exercising its enforcement powers. This could include undertaking investigations into organisations which it suspects may be failing to take reasonable steps to protect employees.
A poll out today by the BBC of more than 6,000 men and women finds that those who work flexibly, including gig workers and those on zero hours contracts, are more likely to encounter unwanted sexual behaviour. Two in five women in the UK say they have experienced sexual harassment at work and only a quarter of them reported it. Of those in a flexible working arrangement, 43% had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work.
Those taking part in the survey were asked about the most common behaviours they had encountered, which included unwelcome jokes, exposure to pornography and sexual assault. Women were three times more likely to say they had been seriously sexually assaulted at work than men. Older people were asked if they had witnessed behaviour that they now believe to be sexual harassment although they didn’t think of it in that way at the time. Four in 10 over 55s agreed.