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Read more articles in: Amanda Hyam, Blog, Employment Law

Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace

A large majority of women have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a survey of 6,000 working people.

In addition, more than a third say it has affected their careers, according to the recent 2022 Gender Equality in the Workplace report by Randstad.

Construction industry the worst

It found that harassment was most likely in the construction and tech industries, with almost half (45 per cent) of women in construction and 42 per cent in tech saying that sexual harassment had either a lot or some impact on their career.

The findings also showed 72 per cent of women had either encountered or witnessed inappropriate behaviour from male colleagues at work, and that two-thirds had experienced gender discrimination in some form.

The research also found that women working in education and facilities management were the least likely to say that sexual harassment affected their careers (29 and 26 per cent respectively).

What should be done

Employers need to demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to prevent harassment. In most cases, employers will be legally responsible for harassment suffered by their staff during the course of employment.

Some measures might include:

  • Starting at the top: Senior managers should ensure a zero-tolerance approach to harassment. Make it clear to everyone, no matter their status, that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.
  • Communication and training: Identify potential trigger points like high-stress environments, late nights and long hours and consider what extra measures could be put in place to reduce the risk of harassment.
  • Support for reporting: Ensure there is an appropriate and confidential way for those with concerns to come forward. Support should be built into any safe reporting system.
  • Implement anti-harassment policies: Clearly define the meaning of sexual harassment as part of the anti-harassment policy and make sure all employees sign up to it. Update regularly and make sure all policies are consistent in having zero tolerance of sexual harassment.

For help and advice on harassment in the workplace and related matters, contact our team today.

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