1 in 8 employers admit workplace sexual harassment goes unreported

Monday 4 September 2017

1 in 8 large employers admit workplace sexual harassment goes unreported, as tribunal fees axed 

YWTOne in eight large UK organisations admit knowing sexual harassment has gone unreported in their workplace, with a further ten percent saying they are also aware of formal reports, according to a YouGov survey for Young Women’s Trust. 

The charity, which supports young women on low or no pay, asked 800 HR decision-makers about women’s experiences at work. Three in five employers (63%) agreed that sexism still exists in the workplace, with a third admitting women face prejudice and discrimination because of their gender in their own workplace. The number of women saying their workplace was sexist was much higher, at forty per cent. 

10 per cent of organisations with 250 or more employees said there had been formal reports of sexual harassment in their workplace and 12 per cent said they were aware of incidents that had gone unreported. 

This comes as a Supreme Court ruling found employment tribunal fees to be unlawful, following a challenge from public sector union Unison. Now employees will once more be able to take on employers over workplace sexual harassment without worrying about having to pay huge sums. While tribunal fees were in place, the number of women reporting sexual harassment at work fell dramatically, despite calls to helplines increasing. 

Young Women’s Trust Chief Executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“Too many young women are facing sexism and sexual harassment while trying to carry out their jobs. It is shocking how many employers are aware of this in their own workplace – yet the problem continues. 

“As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, we are pleased that young women, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet, will not be prevented from taking cases forward. It’s important that women have access to justice when they face discrimination and harassment at work, no matter how much money they have.

“Employers should look too at what they can do to prevent problems occurring in the first place. Supporting more women into a male-dominated workplace, for example, can help change the culture. Everyone should be able to feel safe at work.” 

Young Women’s Trust supports young women on low or no pay and facing poverty, and campaigns against discrimination at work. 

ENDS 

Notes to editor: 

  1. Young Women’s Trust is a charity that supports and represents women in England and Wales aged 16-30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.
  2. Young Women’s Trust commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey of 800 HR decision-makers between 5 April and 3 May 2017. The survey showed that:
    1. 8 per cent (1/13)  say they are aware of incidents of sexual harassment in their workplace that have gone unreported (1/8 or 12 per cent of large employers and 1/25 or 4 per cent of small and medium employers);
    2. 7 per cent (1/14) employers say there have been formal reports of sexual harassment in their workplace (1/10 or 10 per cent of large employers and 1/50 or 2 per cent of small and medium employers);
    3. 63 per cent of employers say that sexism in the workplace still exists (76 per cent of women and 53 per cent of men); and
    4. 30 per cent of employers say that sexism in their workplace still exists (40 per cent of women, 24 per cent of men and 41 per cent of large employers).
    5. Large organisations are defined as those with 250 employees or more.
    6. On 26 July 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were unlawful after Unison, the public service union, challenged the fees.
    7. Data suggests that employment tribunal fees put many women off reporting sexual harassment at work. The Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service’s figures show that there were 1,786 complaints of sexual discrimination launched through the service in 2014/2015 compared to 3,636 the previous year and 5,213 the year before that. Despite the fall in reporting, 7,175 calls related to sex discrimination were made to the ACAS helpline from April 2015 to March 2016 – a 14 per cent increase on the year before. Nearly 80 per cent of the calls were from women.
    8. For more information or to speak to a young woman apprentice, please contact Bex Bailey at bex.bailey@youngwomenstrust.org or on 07963018281. 

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