While almost one in ten women feel sexually harassed at work, just under half report the situation to HR or managers over fears that their career will be affected or they will not be taken seriously.
The most common complaint, cited by one fifth of female workers, was being subject to sexist comments from male colleagues at work, with nearly two out of five saying it was so bad that they wanted to make a formal complaint. But just under a third were afraid that such a move would damage their future career prospects, while 21% feared that their complaint would not be considered genuine.
A further 2% had been touched inappropriately by a male colleague in the workplace, but again a mere 14% of those affected reported the incident, with just under a quarter fearing that they would be seen to be overreacting.
These are the shocking findings of a survey undertaken among 1,496 women by HR consultancy Reabur. Kirsty Burgess, joint managing director of the firm, said: “It is concerning that many women still feel that they will not be taken seriously. I would strongly advise any victim of harassment to report the incident to a manager or trusted colleague. On many occasions, these situations can be resolved internally, and the resolution makes for a much happier work environment.”
To make matters worse, however, 11% of respondents said they have felt victimised by their male peers at one time or another, with 16% believing that they have no respect from them.
Just under a quarter also fear that their male boss would promote a male colleague over them because of their gender, while 12% feel that their manager has less faith in their abilities than those of their male colleagues.
Of the 16% of women who work in a male-dominated environment, just over a quarter admit to feeling uncomfortable in certain situations.