Sexism in UK workplaces on the rise

Sexism in the workplace is on the increase, with almost three out of four (72%) of women claiming they have been bullied because of their gender.

A survey of 2,067 female employees by legal services firm Peninsula found that women in 2006 feel more victimised at the office than they did in 2002, when the survey was last carried out.

When asked if they had ever felt intimidated at work by a fellow employee or a member of management because of gender, 72% of women said yes, compared to 67% in 2002.

The survey shows that most incidents go unreported, with only 8% of respondents saying they would tell their boss if they were harassed. Four out of five (81%) said they would not say anything.

More women than ever believe that being female harmed their chances of career progression (82%) in 2006, compared to 78% in 2002.

It also appears equal opportunities legislation is still failing to have a serious impact on male-dominated office culture.

When asked if, in their experience, they believe there is male bias in the workplace, 85% said yes, compared to 82% in 2002.

Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula, said policies regarding equal opportunities need to be included in contracts of employment and communicated to staff throughout their time with the company if businesses want to avoid costly court cases.

“Tribunals are increasingly looking at written policies and procedures enforced by employers, and will almost certainly find an employer to be failing in their duty of care if they do not have a written and well-publicised equal opportunities policy,” he said.

“Tribunals are won in the workplace not the courtroom, and as such, employers need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they did everything in their power to prevent any harassment from occurring.”

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