A new survey for leading national law firm Shine Lawyers on workplace sexual harassment has found almost 75 percent of Australian women were not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint to their employer, with more than one in three saying they were ignored and no action was taken.
The ReachTEL poll on behalf of Shine Lawyers surveyed 3677 Australian women over the age of 18 during the nights of 16th and 17th August 2018.
"It is very worrying to see so many women, who have been brave enough to come forward and report harassment to their employer, unhappy with the outcome. We can't allow this to continue in Australian workplaces," says Shine Lawyers Employment Law expert Will Barsby.
"There needs to be a proactive campaign by employers to ensure there is proper education of their staff about what is appropriate in the workplace. Creating policies and procedures that are enforced will build a culture of safety and security for female workers. Prevention is key," said Mr Barsby.
The survey found almost 19 % of women have been sexually harassed at work but only 1 in 5 (20.7%) made a complaint.
"Women are being forced to make very difficult decisions about their personal safety versus the need for job security and earning a wage. Almost a quarter didn't make an official complaint because they were worried about losing their job, which puts them in a very vulnerable position," explains Mr Barsby.
The survey also found that almost 22 percent of women aged 51 – 65 who had been harassed said they didn't make a complaint because they were worried about their job security.
"Older workers are more likely to have financial pressures that mean keeping their jobs becomes more important than a safe workplace. They might have mortgages, children in school or be a carer to a loved one like an aging parent. These things can make a secure wage a priority despite the personal risks," said Mr Barsby.
- 34.1% said their complaint was ignored and no action was taken
- 13.6% of women didn't report their harassment as they were afraid they wouldn't be believed
- The top two reasons women don't make a complaint are that they didn't think it was a bad enough incident to complain (26.2%) and they were worried about their job security (24.7%)
- 8.6% of women would rather leave their job than make an official complaint
- More than 40 percent of the harassment was committed by a boss (32.1%) or supervisor (8.2%), indicating the power imbalance in the workplace remains a major factor in harassment
- One in 6 (15.4%) found out about how to make a complaint from #MeToo stories
- 18.2% decided to resign with no job to go to after making their complaint
"These survey results reinforce what people are telling NOW Australia - that they are concerned the harassment is affecting diverse groups of women and men from all walks of life, that their experiences aren't being taken seriously they're worried about job security and victimisation if they speak out. Sexual harassment, which is any unwelcome sexual behaviour which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, is against the law pure and simple," said NOW Australia's Liza-Jayne (LJ) Loch.
"When 4 in 10 of women between the age of 35 to 50 and 1 in 3 of all women surveyed report that their complaints have been ignored, Australia has a major problem. This is what NOW Australia, in partnership with many others, is looking to fix. Every single Australian deserves the right to a safe workplace, free from harassment," said Ms Loch.