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More than a fifth of people across the world have experienced workplace violence and harassment, a study has found.
Research by global safety charity Lloyd’s Register Foundation also found psychological harassment was the most common form experienced.
But the second most common type of workplace violence and harassment differed between the genders – for men it was physical (20%) and for women it was sexual (33%).
The charity interviewed 125,000 people in 121 countries and said the results were daunting.
They also found people are experiencing workplace violence or harassment more than once. The research showed 61% of people who have experienced psychological harassment said it happened three or more times – with similar figures for physical (56%) and sexual (52%) violence and harassment.
Lloyd’s Register Foundation, which aims to use research, innovation and education to make the world a safer place, is now calling for reform of workplace policies and believe a zero-tolerance approach is needed.
Dr Sarah Cumbers, Director of Evidence and Insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “This is the first time we have had global, comparable data on violence and harassment at work, and the resulting figures are daunting.
“The situation looks even worse when we delve deeper into the data to look at the experiences of some more vulnerable groups.
“From the Word Risk Poll data, we can also see that many people haven’t told anyone about their experiences – for instance, because the procedures for doing so were unclear, or because they felt no action would be taken.
“That’s why employers must establish and clearly communicate robust anti-violence and harassment policies and build workplace environments where employees feel comfortable coming forward, with the knowledge that something will be done about it.
“Our research has found a majority of those who have experienced violence and harassment at work will experience it again, emphasising the importance of early intervention and not dismissing incidents as ‘one offs’.
“We hope our report will encourage lawmakers around the world to strengthen legal frameworks, and companies to re-evaluate their culture, policies and processes.”
The data features in a new report – Safe at Work? Global experiences of violence and harassment – which is based on the 2021 Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll in 2021.
This is the second edition of the Poll, following an initial poll in 2019 and the research also found there was a gap in education levels – 15% of women with a primary education only reported experiences of violence and harassment at work while women with a third tier education were found to be at high risk, with 29% reporting these experiences.
A number of subgroups were also highlighted by the poll as being more vulnerable. Three in 10 (30%) migrant women said they had experienced some form of violence and harassment at work, compared with two in five women (21%) working in their country of birth.
This also affected the likelihood of reporting the incident. Overall, 61.1% of native-born women told someone about their experience of violence and harassment – compared to 56.5% of foreign-born women.
More broadly, the report identified that those who had experienced discrimination were at heightened risk.
Almost two in five people globally (39%) who had experienced any form of discrimination – such as gender, ethnicity or disability-based – said they had also experienced violence and harassment at work, compared to 16% of those who had not experienced discrimination.