Worldwide violence and harassment at work: 1 in 5

More than one in five employed people worldwide – 23 per cent – have experienced one or more forms of violence or harassment at work, according to a global study.

It found that the main forms of work-related violence and harassment were psychological violence and harassment, including insults, threats, bullying or intimidation.

This was the most commonly reported form among men and women, and globally, 18 per cent of employed people (representing almost 590 million workers) had experienced it in their working lives.

Furthermore, almost one in 10 workers worldwide (9 per cent or nearly 280 million) said they had experienced physical violence and harassment, such as hitting, restraining or spitting.

Women were more likely than men to report experiencing sexual violence and harassment, such as unwanted sexual touching, comments, pictures, emails or requests.

Overall, 6 per cent of employed people (more than 200 million) had experienced sexual violence and harassment, including 8 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men.

The research report, which was conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Gallup, took in more than 74,000 workers in 121 countries and territories.

The study also found that for most people who have faced workplace violence and harassment, it was not an isolated incident.

At the global level, 61 per cent of self-reported victims said they had experienced it three or more times during their working lives.

Certain demographic groups, including young women, are particularly at risk for experiencing workplace violence and harassment.

Overall, 18 per cent of employed people said they had experienced some form of violence and harassment in the past five years, but this figure rises to 23 per cent of workers aged 15 to 24.

Young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment: 9 per cent said they had faced it in the past five years, compared with 4 per cent of young men.

Almost half of workplace violence and harassment victims had never told anyone about their experience.

Among those who have faced violence and harassment in their working lives, 54 per cent worldwide said they had told someone about the experience, with women more likely than men to have done so (61 per cent versus 50 per cent, respectively).

The gender gap is related to the finding that people who had experienced only sexual violence and harassment (which is more common among women) were more likely to have reported it than those who had experienced only physical violence and harassment (which is somewhat more common among men) – 62 per cent versus 38 per cent, respectively.

Among those who said they had not shared their experiences of workplace violence and harassment, the most commonly selected reason for not doing so – cited by 55 per cent – was that they believed telling someone about it would have been a waste of time.

Source: AIHS, 10 February 2023