One in ten retail workers in the UK have experienced “inappropriate touching of a sexual nature” in their current role, according to a new survey by British law firm Foot Anstey.
The survey, which polled 1,031 workers aged 18 years or older working in the UK retail sector between 30 May 30 – 5 June, 2019 found that men and women were affected equally.
Over a third (36 percent) of those workers believe their employer “could have done more” to prevent it from happening, while around a quarter (24 percent) believe their current employer does not care about protecting them from inappropriate behaviour. Forty-one percent of employees who raised a complaint said they were dissatisfied with the outcome.
Physically aggressive or violent behaviour was experienced by 31 percent of men in the retail sector compared with 23 percent of women. The large majority (78 percent) of this aggression came from customers.
Almost half (47 percent) have heard sexual, racist, homophobic or other offensive language.
“Eye-catching as these figures are, I think I need to be honest and say they confirm the suspicions of anyone working in employment law. I hope they bring to life that quality training for managers in reputation-damaging issues is more important than ever. Business leaders want to see an end to the kind of behaviour this study reveals,” Foot Anstey head of retail and consumer, Patrick Howarth, said in a statement.
“Our survey shows the majority of sexual harassment comes from within the business. In Employment Tribunals the instigator is overwhelmingly more senior than the person making the complaint.”
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“Many managers are promoted on the basis of technical abilities and are not equipped with the leadership skills to deal with harassment – or even recognise it when they see it. That’s no one’s fault. The important thing is to change it.”
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