A significant share of men (23%) across eight countries believe it is (sometimes or always) acceptable to ask or expect co-workers to have intimate interactions such as sex with them, a family member or friend, in a new study commissioned by the poverty-fighting organisation CARE.
This expectation was highest in Egypt (62%), according to the online survey of 9,408 adults aged 18+ conducted by Harris Poll, The countries surveyed were: Australia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.
“Being expected to have sex with your employer – that’s not a job description, it’s sexual abuse,” said Michelle Nunn, CARE’s president and CEO. “And it speaks to the global epidemic of harassment and abuse in our workplaces.”
Overall, the survey found wide gaps between what men and women find acceptable at work. In the US, for example, 44% of men aged 18-34 say it’s (sometimes or always) acceptable to tell a sexual joke at work, while only 22% of women in that age group do.
And, in India, more than half of men (52%) say it’s sometimes (34%) or always acceptable (18%) to rank colleagues based on appearance; even as a significant 35% of women say that’s sometimes or always OK.
Among the other key findings are:
- One in three (32%) of women who have ever worked say they have suffered sexual harassment or assault related to work, while the figure is 21% for men.
- In Egypt, 38% of women said it’s either sometimes or always acceptable for an employer to ask/expect an employee to have intimate interactions with them, a family member or a friend. The figure is 21% among women in India.
- In the UK, 35% of 25-34 year olds think it’s sometimes/always acceptable to pinch a colleague’s bottom in jest.
- In India, one-third (33%) of all adults say it’s either sometimes or always acceptable to cat-call/wolf-whistle at a colleague.
On the positive side, close to two in three (65%) of the women surveyed believe the #MeToo movement will have a positive impact on workplace behaviour. Over half (56%) say recent sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood and other high-profile industries will lead to improved workplace behaviour in most industries, not just entertainment.
CARE released the results of its poll as part of its new #ThisIsNotWorking campaign and calling on the International Labour Organization to create a new convention, or global law, around freedom from violence in the workplace.
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