A new report published today found that 52% of women and 63% of young women (aged 18 to 24 years old) have experienced sexual harassment at work – whether that’s through being the subject of inappropriate, sexual jokes or experiencing unwanted touching.
But what’s the next step after being harassed, and what is the safest and most appropriate way to deal with it?
Here, we spoke to experts from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) about the actions you should take to ensure it never happens again.
Sexual harassment is when someone behaves in a way which makes you feel distressed, intimidated or offended and the behaviour is of a sexual nature.
In a blog published on HuffPost UK, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This isn’t about women being able to take a joke or not.
“Sexual harassment is undermining and humiliating and victims are often left feeling ashamed and frightened.”
According to today’s report, 79% of women who experienced sexual harassment at work did not tell their employer about what was happening.
Alice Hood, head of equality and strategy at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), who published the report, tells The Huffington Post UK: “Employers are required by law to protect their staff from harassment at work, and unions can work with managers to make sure there are good policies and sufficient training in place, and that employers adopt a zero-tolerance policy to sexual harassment.
“If you are subjected to sexual harassment you should make sure you record what happens to you and when, keeping any emails/texts or social media posts if relevant.
“You should also keep notes of any steps you take to address the problem and the responses you get from the harasser and your employer. All of this will be useful if you choose to go to a formal grievance or an employment tribunal.”
Here, Alice Hood lists the best ways to deal with sexual harassment at work:
1. Tell the person to stop
“If you feel able to, let the person know that their joke, actions or comments made you feel uncomfortable,” says Hood. “You might prefer to do this with a friend, union rep or another colleague present.”
2. Keep evidence of their actions
“Make a note of what’s happened and when, and any witnesses. And if you’re in a union, tell your rep what’s going on,” suggests Hood.
“Keep copies of any emails, texts or social media posts related to the harassment.
“If you know that an individual’s actions make other people uncomfortable, even if they aren’t directed at them, then that’s important too and you should make a note of it and ask if they’d be willing to speak up if you decide to raise it with managers.”
3. Raise the issue with a senior member of staff
“If it’s not your manager harassing you, then raise it with them straight away, and if it’s your manager who is harassing you, then tell another manager, someone higher up in the organisation or the HR department if your company/organisation has one,” says Hood.