Rape Crisis Responds to Women & Equalities Committee Report into Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Today (25th July 2018), the Women and Equalities Select Committee released its report into sexual harassment in the workplace, setting out a number of recommendations relating to improved data collection and the need for statutory codes of practice, as well as a ‘clean up’ of the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Yvonne Traynor, CEO of Rape Crisis South London, who gave oral evidence before the Committee said:
“Much of this report is common sense and has been a long time coming.
We know that all too often women choose to leave their employment rather than report what has taken place, or engage in grievance or employment tribunal proceedings, and the responsibility must be on the employer to change this.
Policies on sexual harassment should be ambitious, progressive, and informed by specialist sexual violence organisations, so that sexual harassment in the workplace becomes a thing of the past.”
Rape Crisis England & Wales (RCEW) agrees with the report’s conclusion that the burden should not fall on the individual to rectify systemic and organisational cultures of sexual harassment.
“The current reality is the onus is still too often on individual victims and survivors to speak out in order to effect change.
We must see a shift of culture and emphasis onto employers to take responsibility for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace and tackling it robustly where it occurs.
When individuals do speak out it, is essential there is specialist support in place for them. This is a crucial element which is absent from the recommendations in this report.
Specialist sexual violence organisations should be feeding into codes of conduct, and employers should be required to ensure access to specialist independent support for victims and survivors of harassment, working in partnership with local Rape Crisis Centres and contributing to resourcing for this work where necessary.”
A survivor of sexual harassment is quoted in the report as saying:
“My GP and local rape crisis centre have been tremendously supportive… My employer has been abysmal.
The knowledge, support and professionalism of rape crisis services has been lifesaving.” (p.24)
The Government launched a specialist sexual harassment and sexual violence support service at Westminster this week.
Rape Crisis added:
“Our member Rape Crisis services are providing specialist support to more sexual violence and abuse victims and survivors than ever before, but they remain chronically underfunded.
We’re pleased that a number of our recommendations have been included in today’s report. We now need to see it translated into actions that all victims and survivors of sexual harassment in the workplace are able to benefit from, which means an urgent and significant increase in resourcing for services.”