Reading this article from the UK was a bit of a deja vu experience for me in that the statistics and issues highlighted in it are very reminiscent of those in recent Canadian studies about sexual harassment in the workplace. A recent UK study conducted by the National Trade Union Centre (TUC) found that 2/3 of female respondents had experienced some form of SHIW.
The most strikingly similar statistic is that 79% of those in the study who disclosed having experienced SHIW had not reported it because this type of behaviour had been normalized in their workplace. The author explains:
Sexual harassment takes form in different ways, whether it's a comment or a physical action, it can be equally damaging. Nevertheless, the relaxed attitudes towards sexual "jokes" in the workplace are the reason many women fail to report incidents. As stated in TUC study, 28% of women think reporting sexual advances will impact negatively on their relationships at work and 15% believe it will affect their career prospects. Others can feel too embarrassed to talk about it or think they won't be taken seriously, which has resulted in 79% never telling their employers about it. (emphasis added)
Nevertheless, SHIW can have a devastating impact on its victims and often creates a poisoned work environment which can lead to widespread mental health issues, absenteeism and employee turnover, all of which adversely affects a businesses bottom line. As noted by the General Secretary of the TUC:
"Let's be clear - sexual harassment is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health. Victims are often left feeling ashamed and frightened. It has no place in a modern workplace, or in wider society."
The Legal Clinic, as part of public legal education Project sponsored by the Justice Department (Canada) offers free virtual and in person workshops for employers and employees about how to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace. We also can offer free legal advice and referrals to those who have experienced SHIW. For more information about this project you can contact Anne-Marie Langan at 613-264-7153 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.tlcshiwproject.com.