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One in five people face violence, harassment at work: ILO study

Violence harassment at work

HQ Team

December 6, 2022: About 23% of people or one in five, have experienced violence and harassment in their workplace, an ILO report stated.

It may be physical, psychological or sexual, according to the first global survey on experiences of violence and harassment at work conducted by the ILO, polling company Gallup and charity Loyd’s Register Foundation.

Violence and harassment at work were difficult to measure, according to the ILO statement. The report found that only half of victims worldwide had disclosed their experiences to another person, often only after they had repeated incidents.

‘Challenging but essential’

“Gathering robust data on this highly-sensitive issue is challenging but essential. For the first time, this report lifts the veil on this pervasive problem which plagues more than one in five workers globally,” said Andrew Rzepa, a Partner at Gallup.

“For too long, companies and organizations have been unaware or unwilling to tackle violence and harassment in the workplace”, he said. “This dataset provides a baseline we can all use to track much-needed progress on this vital safety issue.”

The most common reason given for non-disclosure was that it was a “waste of time,” leaving people who have been abused fearing for their reputation. Women were more likely to share their experiences than men — 60.7% compared to 50.1%.

 Globally, 17.9% of employed men and women said they had experienced psychological violence and harassment at some point in their working life, and 8.5% had faced physical violence and harassment. More men reported having experienced this violence.

Of the participants, 6.3% reported facing sexual violence and harassment, “with women being particularly exposed.”

75,000 individuals

The ILO-LRF-Gallup study was based on interviews conducted in 2021 with nearly 75,000 employed individuals aged 15 or older, in 121 countries and territories, as part of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll.

Young people, migrant workers, and salaried women and men have been the most exposed to violence, according to the data.

Young women were twice as likely as young men to have faced sexual violence and harassment, while migrant women were almost twice as likely as non-migrants to report sexual violence and harassment.

 More than three out of five victims said they had experienced violence and harassment, multiple times, and for the majority, the most recent incident occurred within the past five years.

 “It’s painful to learn that people face violence and harassment not just once, but multiple times in their working lives,” said Manuela Tomei, ILO assistant director-general for Governance, Rights and Dialogue.

“Psychological violence and harassment are most prevalent across countries, and women are particularly exposed to sexual violence and harassment. The report tells us about the enormous task ahead to end violence and harassment in the world of work. I hope it will expedite action on the ground and towards the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 190.”

ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (or 190) and Recommendation (No.206) are the first international labour standards to provide a common framework to prevent, remedy and eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment.

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