Two in three women experience sexual harassment at work
A landmark survey by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has revealed the prevalence of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces with two in three women and one in three men affected.
Following responses from more than 9,600 workers the ACTU revealed more than 60% of respondents had witnessed sexual harassment in their workplace – of which 65% did not make a formal complaint and 41% did not tell anybody at all about the behaviour.
ACTU President Michele O’Neil (pictured) said everyone should be able to go to work without being subjected to discrimination, harassment or violence.
“For many people – mainly women – this is not the reality. These survey results show that sexual harassment remains a persistent and widespread problem in Australian workplaces, which means our current laws are failing to protect Australian workers,” Ms O’Neil said.
“Our current rules do not require employers or regulators to take positive, proactive steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, which means the burden rests solely on the individual.
“Complaints processes are too complex and costly. Many do not complain at all for fear of victimisation or lack of faith in the process.
Ms O’Neil said workers need the power to act collectively through their unions to create safe, healthy and secure work environments free of harassment and violence.
“Sexual harassment is a workplace issue and should be able to be addressed through our workplace laws.
“Workers who complain need access to fair, effective and efficient complaints mechanisms.”
Ms O’Neil said workplaces with high levels of worker and union representation were safer for everyone.
“The public discussion often focuses on scandals and inappropriate behaviour by individuals, but ignores the reality that sexual harassment is a much more complex issue.
“Sexual harassment at work is caused by gender inequality and exacerbated by poor, unsafe and insecure work practices and conditions.”
The ACTU Change The Rules campaign is a driving force to change the industrial rules governing Australian workplaces – and particularly to alleviate the issues impacting working women.
“The Change the Rules campaign for a decent living wage, stronger rights to representation, restored penalty rates, reduced job insecurity, increased access to flexible work arrangements, better parental leave, a fairer superannuation system, access to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave and fast, efficient access to justice when things go wrong will increase the financial and employment security of all workers, including many women, which is crucial in the fight against all forms of violence, harassment and discrimination at work,” Ms O’Neil said.
The ACTU particularly acknowledged survey participants for taking the often difficult step of sharing their stories about sexual harassment in the workplace.
Read a full copy of the ACTU sexual harassment survey findings at https://www.australianunions.org.au/sh_survey_results