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Study: One in two employees have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace

sexual harassment in the workplace

A recent study carried out by KMOP, in the framework of the European project TEAMWORK, showed that more than half of the employees surveyed have experienced sexual harassment during their working lives, but almost 40% of them do not know which procedures the victims should follow to protect themselves.

The survey, which took place in the period June-September 2020, included interviews with trade union representatives, employers’ associations, NGOs and Ombudsman, as well as online research on employees and employers, with the aim of presenting a comprehensive picture of the phenomenon of sexual harassment at the workplace in Greece. In total, 126 workers, 27 employers and seven representatives of organizations participated in the survey.

The majority of the employees that participated (84.13) were women, 68% work in the private sector and 75% live in Athens. Employers involved senior managers and human resources managers, of which 70.37% were women and 81.48% work in private enterprises.

More than half of the employees (52.38%) admitted having been subjected to sexual harassment during their working lives, while 42.86% of workers interviewed said they have witnessed some form of sexual harassment against colleagues in the workplace. The overwhelming majority of the sample (91.27%) reported that women were most exposed to sexual harassment.

At the same time, 39.68% of the employees said they were unaware of the procedures a victim has to take to seek protection in the company in which she or he works, while 42.06% emphasized that the company in which they work has no document containing clauses prohibiting sexual harassment. Moreover, anonymous complaints are not an active practice for 73.02% of organizations, according to respondents.

The different forms of sexual harassment in the workplace

The majority of the employees who participated in the survey reported that the forms of sexual harassment that most often occur at the workplace involve sexual suggestions or jokes that make them feel offended (70.63%), unwanted sexual suspicions (65.08%), debates about a colleague’s sexual life (59.52%), and sexual comments about the appearance of an individual (59.52%).

It should be also highlighted that almost half of the employees who replied to the questionnaire said that psychological violence often or on a daily basis occurs in the place where they work.

Lack of preventive mechanisms in the companies

On the part of employers, the vast majority that participated in the survey (77.78%) recognize that the problem of sexual harassment is very serious, although 33.33% say that there have never been cases of sexual harassment in their company and 29.83% say that such incidents are not often observed.

Employers pointed out that in the case of sexual harassment the head is informed (44,44%), complaints are made to the Human Resources department (29,63%), the general procedure is followed for reporting violations of internal labor rights and discipline (22,22%), or an anonymous complaint system (11,11%) is followed. Some companies have a special protocol to prevent and combat sexual harassment (11.11%).

However, 29.63% of employers reported that there were no special complaints procedures in their company, while 11.11% did not know whether they existed. In addition, more than half (55.56%) said there is no special system for monitoring cases of sexual harassment. In terms of prevention, almost half of the employers’ representatives interviewed (48.15%) noted that there are no preventive measures in force in the company in which they work.

The survey was carried out within the framework of the European project TEAMWORK (combaT sExuAl harassment in the WORKplace), which aims to contribute to the fight against sexual harassment at the workplace in Greece, Bulgaria, Spain and Italy.

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