Sexual harassment as widespread as ever

Being safe at work is a basic human right. Yet the latest telephone survey of Australian workers by the Australian Human Rights Commission, undertaken every four years, shows that sexual harassment continues to be widespread in Australian workplaces.

More than 1 in 5, or 20% of people aged 15 years and older, were sexually harassed in the workplace in the past five years. Here’s a snapshot of the report:

  • Women under 40 are most likely to be sexually harassed.
  • Harassers are usually their male co-workers.
  • Women are at least five times more likely than men to have been harassed by a boss or employer.
  • Men harassing women accounts for more than half of all sexual harassment.
  • Men harassing men accounts for nearly a quarter of all sexual harassment.

Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick says that as well as ensuring employees understand sexual harassment and their rights and obligations, supporting employees who make complaints and dealing with complaints effectively and efficiently, innovative approaches are also needed. Organisations also need to change their culture and leaders need to be genuinely committed to stamping out sexual harassment.

Questions for discussion

What support does your organisation offer people who complain about sexual harassment? What additional measures could your organisation take to eliminate sexual harassment from your workplace?