DESPITE numerous changes in attitudes and legislation over the past 100 years, harassment is sadly still all too prevalent. There is an abundance of research available already stating what we already know: that harassment is happening daily and affects all of us.
At the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, our research has shown shocking statistics around harassment in the night-time economy, with 34% of respondents having experienced some form of unwanted behaviour whilst working or travelling to work. Added to that, we know that reporting of harassment remains low, so the figures are likely to be much higher. Only 40% reported the harassment that they experienced to their employer despite being protected from harassment in the workplace under the Equality Act of 2010.
However, this doesn’t enforce employers to proactively prevent harassment from taking place or protect their employees from third-party harassment. This is all too clear in the recent report by the BBC that highlighted the harassment faced by a female employee at Starplan. The harassment she experienced was by a colleague, but even when she reported it, she was not protected by her employer and was victimised by other employees.
This is unacceptable and there must be policies in place within every organisation around supporting employees who experience, as well as report, any harassment. That’s why we introduced Suzy’s Charter, to work with businesses to ensure the safety of their employees is prioritised through gold-standard personal safety policies. Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety provides a personal safety framework that can help employers become fully compliant with excellent personal safety policies and protocols as well as initiating culture change to address wider issues of unwanted and unsafe behaviours.
More needs to be done to recognise the full spectrum of behaviours that constitute harassment, such as bullying, sexual harassment, racially motivated harassment and more. Some of these behaviours are captured by the law, however far too often they are treated as the norm. We urge the Government to continue to support the Worker Protection Bill, which would ensure employers must take all reasonable steps to end the culture of sexual harassment in their workplace and would protect employees from third-party harassment. This legislation could be an important step towards ending workplace harassment once and for all.
It doesn’t matter where you work, or what you do, you should feel safe when you are at work, as well as in your private life. We think about safety in the workplace through the lens of health and safety, but our personal safety and safety from harassment should be considered a priority alongside this. The Trust is widely recognised as a field expert in lone-working and personal safety. We offer personal safety training for companies that teaches valuable skills to managers and health and safety professionals about how to always keep their employees safe as well as establishing a culture where unwanted and harmful behaviours are not tolerated.
Employers have a responsibility to their employees to ensure they are safe in all aspects of their work, recognising our right to be and feel safe in every aspect of our lives.