Sexual harassment remains rife

Thursday 11 October 2018

Sexual harassment remains rife – it’s up to employers, not women, to change

YWT logoAs the United Nations marks the International Day of the Girl with a focus on women’s employability, Young Women’s Trust has found that one in ten large employers in the UK is aware of unreported sexual harassment in their organisation and says it is workplaces, not women, that need to change. 

In a YouGov survey for Young Women’s Trust, a charity that supports young women on low or no pay, one in 10 HR professionals in organisations employing more than 250 people have been aware of formal reports of sexism, and nearly as many know of unreported sexual harassment. 

Worryingly, the charity’s polling of young women through Populus Data Solutions shows that, a year on from the #metoo movement, in which women spoke up about their experiences of sexual harassment at work, a quarter of young women say they would be reluctant to report sexual harassment for fear of losing their job. A third don’t know how to report it. 

Young Women’s Trust is calling for workplaces to put in place effective policies young women and to end the culture that sees them as inferior and holds them back. 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“We absolutely should give girls skills to make them more employable, as is the focus of this year’s UN International Day of the Girl Child. Supporting girls and young women to get on in life, however, is not just about shaping them to fit workplaces but shaping workplaces to suit young women. While women continue to face sexual harassment, discrimination and a gender pay gap, they will be held back. 

“We’ve heard disturbing testimonies from hundreds of young women over the past year about the experiences they have had at work – and about how dismissive employers can be of their issues. We still have a situation where young women fear backlash from employers if they raise concerns. 

“If 2018 is to be a turning point for women’s equality and not just a footnote in history, then it’s clear that we need deeds, not just words. It’s time for employers to step up, rather than always expecting girls and young women to put in the work and put up with discrimination.” 

Young Women’s Trust is supporting young women to find work or training and take the next step in their career, while campaigning to make workplaces fairer.  


Notes to editor: 

  1. Young Women’s Trust is a charity supporting women aged 16-30 on low or no pay. The charity provides direct services to help young women into work and runs campaigns.
  2. 11 October is the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child. 2018’s focus is on girls’ skills and employability.
  3. October 2018 marks the anniversary of the #metoo movement, which started when Hollywood women started speaking out about Harvey Weinstein to accuse him of sexual harassment.
  4. Young Women’s Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out a poll of those making employment decisions in 2018. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 816 senior HR professionals / people managers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th April - 7th May 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK business population by size, sector and region. The survey shows that:
    1. one in ten HR professionals in large organisations (defined as those with more than 250 employees) have been aware of formal reports of sexism in their workplace; and
    2. 8 per cent are aware of sexual harassment in their workplace that has not been reported.
  5. Figures relating to young people’s views are based on findings from a survey carried out for Young Women’s Trust by Populus Data Solutions. A representative sample of 4,010 18-30 year olds and 1,115 54-72 year olds in England and Wales, with panel services provided by Populus Live, were surveyed between 29 June-16 July 2018. The survey shows that:
    1. 15 per cent of young women (some 800,000 young women), have been sexually harassed at work and not reported it – double the number of women who have experienced it and reported it (eight per cent);
    2. a third of young women (32 per cent) say they don’t know how to report sexual harassment; and
    3. one in five young women (18 per cent) say that they are too scared to report sexual harassment at work and a quarter of young women (24 per cent) would be reluctant to report sexual harassment for fear of losing their job, or fear of being given fewer hours (17 per cent).
  6. For more information, regional breakdowns or to speak to a young woman who is affected, please contact Bex Bailey on 07963018281 or