Sexual harassment: #MeToo and Time’s up encourage workers to speak out

According to new research, prominent movements against sexual harassment have given over a quarter of UK workers the confidence to report it.

According to new research from global jobs site Monster.co.uk, both the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have given over a quarter of UK workers the confidence to report sexual harassment they witness or experience in the workplace.

Sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment is the act of violating someone’s dignity and creating a hostile, intimidating and humiliating environment for them by engaging them in unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature.

Not only does Monster’s research show that many people are now openly reporting personal cases of sexual harassment, it also highlights the extent of gender discrimination and sexual harassment still taking place in workplaces across the UK.

The research reveals that 21 per cent of UK employees have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace. Worryingly, 18 per cent of women and men reported that they have experienced direct sexual harassment in the last year.

Taking this into consideration, these numbers could potentially be higher as, despite some people beginning to speak out about their experiences, there are still many who do not choose to speak out about it for fear of losing their jobs.

Gender discrimination in the workplace

Although it’s often denied by many businesses all over the world in an attempt to protect the company’s reputation, gender discrimination in the workplace still exists. A substantial 31 per cent of Brits reported having seen or experienced cases of gender discrimination in their workplaces in the last year.

Under 50 per cent of individuals believe that men and women who have the same grounds of experience and qualifications have an equal chance of being hired, with 41 per cent of women feeling as if they need to push themselves harder in the workplace in order to achieve a promotion.

Women are more likely to feel there is lack of equality in the workplace, with only a third (35 per cent) believing they have an equal chance of securing a job; compared to 55 per cent of men. This is indicative of the inequality that still surrounds the recruitment process and the distribution of job roles, with women feeling less likely to be hired for a job over a male candidate or less likely to be promoted over a male colleague.

Human Resources professionals suggest that in order to encourage further gender equality in the workplace their organisation’s policies need to be updated. This suggestion was more prevalent in women with 25 per cent stating that they had experienced it themselves, in comparison to 9 per cent of men.

Younger generations seem to be the target of gender discrimination with younger individuals expressing that they have either witnessed or experienced gender discrimination than those aged over 35.

The role of company policies

Organisations play a crucial role in creating gender equality in the workplace and when asked, 69 per cent of human resource professionals confirmed that they do have policies in place to guarantee equality between men and women when recruiting candidates.

However, a further 25 per cent admit that the policies they do have in place are not always adhered to during the hiring process.

Sinead Bunting, Vice President of Marketing Europe at Monster, says that #MeToo and Time’s Up have clearly had a profound impact and raised awareness of sexual harassment and gender inequality in the workplace. She adds that it’s refreshing to see these issues being talked about openly in offices and to see more women feeling confident to stand up for what is right – but there is still a lot more to be done,

‘HR and business leaders have the ability to help shift attitudes and create equal playing fields and safe spaces where concerns can be heard. Companies need to empower their workers to come forward if they see something they don’t believe is right, and give them the confidence that any issues reported will be handled sensitively and treated seriously.’

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