A new report from the TUC looks at LGBT workers’ experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace – whether with customers or clients or co-workers. And it highlights how things are different for bi workers – including having a different pattern of harassment by gender from lesbians and gay men.
Although in many areas there were differences between the experiences of men and women who responded to our survey, the experiences of bisexual men and women were similar across several different types of sexual harassment and sexual assault at work, including sexual assault and rape. Around one in five bisexual men and women who responded to our survey experienced sexual assault at work (20 per cent and 22 per cent* respectively) and one in ten reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work (11 per cent and 10 per cent* respectively)
#MeToo has been effective in focusing the eyes of the world on the problem of sexual harassment at work. But the voices of LGBT people haven’t been heard clearly enough in discussions around this issue. We wanted to change this and foreground LGBT people’s voices and experiences in the ongoing debate and search for solutions. We therefore conducted the first survey of its kind on this issue.
We found shockingly high levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Around seven out of ten LGBT workers experienced at least one type of sexual harassment at work (68 per cent) and almost one in eight LGBT women (12 per cent) reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work.
However, this is a hidden problem with two thirds of those who were harassed not reporting it; and one in four of those who did not report the harassment being silenced by fear of ‘outing’ themselves at work.
Government must act urgently to put the responsibility for tackling this problem where it belongs – with employers. We need stronger legislation that places a new legal duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment, with real consequences for those who don’t comply.