- Nearly half of retail workers in the U.K. have experienced "sexual, racist, homophobic or otherwise very offensive language" in the workplace, according to a survey of about 1,000 retail workers from law firm Foot Anstey.
- The survey found that 11% of retail workers experienced inappropriate touching at work. More than a third of them "blamed their employer for not doing enough." A quarter of respondents said they experienced physically aggressive or violent behavior, while 26% were subjected to unwanted touching or hugging.
- When broken down by gender, women and men experienced inappropriate touching and sexual, racist, homophobic and other discriminatory language at similar rates. Men, however, faced physically aggressive or violent behavior significantly more than women — at a difference of 8 percentage points. Women were subjected to more unwanted touching or hugging than men by 8 percentage points, as well, Foot Anstey said.
What stood out in the Foot Anstey survey wasn't just the number of harassment victims in the retail sector. The findings also revealed the relative high percentage of complaints against employers for not having the appropriate mechanisms in place to help prevent harassment; 41% of respondents were unsatisfied with the results following their complaints, 24% said they felt their employer didn't care about protecting them from abuse and 22% said their employer lacked confidential means of filing complaints.
U.S.-based research has produced similar findings. In a National Institutes of Health poll of more than 15,000 workers released in June, 20% experienced sexual harassment. The poll also found that less than half of the respondents reported the alleged misconduct. Of those, more than three-quarters said they didn't report because they didn't think the incident warranted a complaint. Another 38% said they didn't think anything helpful would come of filing a complaint. For those who did file a complaint, only 7.1% said their allegations were investigated.
If employers fail to encourage workers to report unacceptable behavior or leave their complaints uninvestigated, it's likely harassment of all types will persist in the workplace. Some organizations aim to incentivize and encourage employers to do better. A new organization called the Purple Campaign offers a certification to educate employers on sexual harassment prevention and protocols.
The #MeToo movement may not have eradicated sexual harassment in the workplace, but other forces are at work to reduce its prevalence. According to a poll of 540 full-time employees by The Manifest, 79% of the respondents wouldn't trade a higher salary for a job with a company that failed to respond to a sexual harassment complaint. It might take this kind of resistance from job seekers to get employers to confront sexual misconduct and all other types of harassment.