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Sexual harassment going unreported in large firms

One in eight large UK employers admits knowing sexual harassment has gone unreported in their workplace, according to a YouGov survey.

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The survey, carried out on behalf of the Young Women’s Trust – a charity supporting 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 40%.


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


This research follows a Supreme Court ruling which found employment tribunal fees to be unlawful, following a challenge from public sector union Unison. 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.”

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