Sexual harassment has 'doubled' at Australian workplaces
THE number of women who say they were sexually harassed at work has doubled in the wake of #metoo, according to startling new research released today by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The landmark report, unveiled by sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins, found the number of women who say they have been sexually harassed at work has risen from 21% to 39% in the past six years.
It also found 71% of Australians have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetimes, including more than four in five (85%) women and more than half (56%) of men over the age of 15.
The research, based on a survey of 10,272 people, also found the majority of perpetrators were male, who most often worked as a co-worker at the same level as the victim.
Yet despite the prevalence in sexual harassment cases, only about 17% of victims made complaints, with those who didn't cite fears people would think they were overreacting or saying it was easier to keep quiet.
For those who did make a formal complaint, almost half of the complainants said the report resulted in no cultural change at the organisation.
Just four out of five cases ended in consequences for the offender, which was most commonly a formal warning.
In the report's foreword, Jenkins noted many cases were "ongoing over an extended period" and that many victims went on to suffer stress or mental health issues as a result.
She said sexual harassment was particularly high in the information, media and telecommunications industries.
She also noted that this particular survey had recorded a "marked increase in the prevalence rate" than past surveys, which she said could be either due to an increase in sexual harassment or greater awareness of what constitutes sexual harassment, or other factors.
"What we are certain of is that this is a problem that affects millions of Australians and we, collectively, have a big job ahead to tackle the problem," she said, adding employers needed to play a significant role in preventing the behaviour from occurring and responding appropriately when it does.
The findings of the survey will feed into a national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces to be spearheaded by the commission, in the wake of the #metoo movement.