More businesses need to address and solve #MeToo issues

With new research on sexual harassment in the workplace, businesses need to establish how to prevent #MeToo issues from continuing.

It has been revealed that a number of top City firms have begun introducing a series of new rules for their employees, in the hope of reducing the prevalence of sexual harassment within the workplace. This comes as Emma Watson launches her legal advice line to help women understand their rights when experiencing sexual harassment at work. Advancing the discussion of why #MeToo exists, today’s data by Equality Group unveils how issues of #MeToo will prevail in the workplace unless we actively discuss and confront the issues at hand.

Key research implications:

  • Half of women have experienced harassment/bullying/inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and not reported it
  • A third of women – 34% –  and 26% of men are confused as to whether the incidents that made them feel uncomfortable in the workplace should have been reported
  • 34% of women don’t want to report incidents at work because they are worried that it will negatively impact their career progression or create an uncomfortable working environment 
  • A fifth – 21% – of women in the workplace have experienced incidents that fall into the ‘Me Too’ category since the movement has become popularised
  • Nearly half of UK workplaces – 44% – have no measures in place to deal with issues such as harassment/bullying/inappropriate behaviour
  • Nearly half of the UK workforce feel men should be more involved in providing a practical solution for the issues raised in the #MeToo movement
  • 31% of Brits feel their workplace is ineffective in resolving harassment/bullying/inappropriate behaviour
  • 3 in 10 – 31% – of Brits feel their workplace has become worse, since the rise of the #MeToo movement, in addressing and resolving issues of workplace harassment/bullying/inappropriate behaviours

Men and #MeToo:

The role of men in providing a solution to #MeToo has typically been removed from the conversation. It is clear that there is a lack of awareness and education, not only is the issue becoming more prevalent for over a fifth of the workforce but moreover, a means to an end becoming an overly challenging issue for workplace decision-makers to solve. This data is indicative, not only of an issue that is not fixing itself, but instead, a distinct lack of awareness across both gender sets as to what constitutes as a #MeToo issue, if the issue should be reported, and how workplaces can progress. Men need to speak up about the movement, and their place within it, which can only be done if they are included in the conversation.

How businesses can help reduce #MeToo incidences:

  • Effective bystander responsibility – businesses need to make workers feel empowered to call out inappropriate behaviour in the workplace 
  • Businesses need to remove the grey zones surrounding what is acceptable in the workplace by providing clear guidelines, whether this be in person or official documents, that are available to all levels of the business that can iron out any misunderstanding surrounding potential #MeToo issues
  • Workplaces should conduct open forum discussions that aim to remove any associated taboo with the topics discussed, full de-stigmatisation must be actioned across all workplaces 

“It is great to see that businesses and prominent role models are taking a stance towards educating the UK workforce on what constitutes as inappropriate behaviour and the legal options women can take, without fear of it impacting their career,” says Hephzi Pemberton, Founder of Equality Group comments.

“As a society, we should be striving to stamp out harassment, bullying, and inappropriate behaviour in the workplace by creating and implementing positive policies. While the situation has almost certainly improved, there are still a number of steps that workplaces need to take to improve their working culture.

“Bringing in diverse talent at senior levels, in terms of women and BAME professionals, to bring new ideas to boards and leadership teams across the country can undoubtedly change working cultures for the better.”

>See Also: The #MeToo movement has its critics – but here’s what employers can learn from it

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