Huge underreporting of harassment revealed
|Echoing this statement, Fórsa’s equality officer Geraldine O’Brien said clear reporting structures were needed in every organisation so that people can feel comfortable coming forward.|
Just one in every five people who experience sexual harassment in their workplace report it, according to a new survey by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).
The study also found that only a quarter of those who have reported harassment felt their complaint was taken seriously and appropriately dealt with.
The survey uncovers many barriers to reporting. One-in-three respondents said they feared reporting would damage their working relationships, while 25% feared it would have a negative impact on their career. The same number believed they wouldn’t be believed or taken seriously.
In a tenth of cases, the perpetrator was part of the reporting process.
ICTU general secretary Patricia King said: “Of all the alarming statistics thrown up by the poll, I’m struck by the unacceptably high levels of under-reporting and dissatisfaction with their employer’s action among those who do report sexual harassment.”
Echoing this statement, Fórsa’s equality officer Geraldine O’Brien said clear reporting structures were needed in every organisation so that people can feel comfortable coming forward.
“Under the Employment Equality Act, employers are obliged to adopt, implement and monitor a comprehensive, effective and accessible policy on sexual harassment. The results of this survey clearly indicate that this isn’t happening in nearly enough workplaces.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe and be respected at work, and employers who fall short on these obligations should face greater repercussions,” she said.
ICTU’s social policy officer Laura Bambrick said that one in five incidents of sexual harassment took place at work social events, while one in seven occurred via phone, by email or online.
"The Christmas party has long been identified as the most common off-site location of workplace sexual harassment, and this is borne out in our survey. However, the extent of unwanted sexual behaviour from colleagues taking place online also points to a growing problem in the modern workplace,” she said.
The national opinion poll of 1,347 union members with experience of sexual harassment at work was conducted online between 1st and 14th November. Over 70% of respondents were women.
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