The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's (CIPD) Head of Research, Ksenia Zheltoukhova, has given evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee as part of a one-off session on sexual harassment in the workplace. The session, held on 31 January at Portcullis House, investigated employer responses to reports of sexual harassment, the adequacy of the law, and the advice available to employers and HR professionals.
In the UK, nearly two in three young women have experienced sexual harassment at work, and 79% of all women who have experienced workplace sexual harassment did not tell their employer, according to the TUC.
The reluctance to report sexual harassment at work can be explained by a number of factors. It can be due to a lack of awareness of a formal process, an employer’s poor track record in dealing with other sexual harassment cases, a weak organisational culture, or poor line management. Ms Zheltoukhova told the Committee that management must make special provisions for sexual harassment cases, and have clear policies which are regularly communicated and reinforced.
When asked what employers can do to increase reporting, Ms Zheltoukhova pointed to the underlying issue of positive and inclusive organisational cultures and suggested two actions that employers can take. First, she suggested that employers should create environments where there is a diversity of representation at senior management level; second, she emphasised the supportive role of line managers. The two must work in tandem to build an open and trusting organisational culture.