The recent £3.2million awarded by the Employment Tribunal in relation to a sexual harassment claim by a female London based employee of a Russian bank once again highlights the fact that many City working environments house a culture of sexism and machismo in what still remains a male dominated environment.
Research shows that more than half of women have experienced a male colleague acting inappropriately towards them at some time and, although this was a particularly extreme case (with the huge award for comprising £3.14m for lost earnings, £44,000 for hurt feelings and £15,000 in aggravated damages), the expensive lessons employers should be learning from tribunal cases, seem to somewhat pass them by.
Although sexual harassment can be both experienced and incited by both men and women, by far the most common issue in City institutions is that suffered by women at the hands of their male work colleagues.
Some of the most common forms of sexual harassment in the workplace include:
- Being on the receiving end of sexist remarks or chauvinist jokes.
- Inappropriate comments about dress.
- Being propositioned in a manner which makes them feel awkward.
- Being referred to inappropriately by male colleagues in front of others.
- Physical contact that makes one party feel uncomfortable.
And, increasingly, many women find that they are subject to inappropriate behaviour and comments through email and social media.
Being exposed to harassment can have extremely detrimental effects on an individual including mental and physical health problems, fear of not being believed and/or being perceived a “trouble maker” and concerns about future work prospects. It is for these reasons that many women do not report their experiences and the problem is allowed to continue unchecked in many workplaces. Employers must take a proactive approach to identifying, addressing and preventing sexual harassment in their organisations by taking a firm stance against any employees behaving inappropriately.
At Park City we are experts in Human Resources issues and can help you manage a bullying or harassment claim by an employee, provide training around the subject for managers and help finesse your Equal Opportunities and Harassment & Bullying Employment Policies. Speak to one of our highly experienced consultants today.