Less than half of Scots intervene in sexual harassment work incidents – report

Fewer than half of all Scots who witnessed sexual harassment at work stepped into to help, a new survey has revealed.

More than a fifth (22.9%) of those who had seen someone being harassed did not believe it was their place to intervene to try to stop such behaviour, while 18.2% were too afraid to act.

The figures were included in new research by Censuswide Scotland which found that more than a quarter of adults – and over a third of women – had been the victim of sexual harassment at work.

A total of 11.9% of people had experienced this on multiple occasions, with a further 14.2% having suffered one incident.

For women those proportions rose to 15% and 18.1% – significantly higher than the 5.4% and 6.3% of men who said they had been sexually harassed on more than one occasion or one time only.

  • 43.3% of those who witnessed sexual harassment at work said they had intervened

  • 22.9% of people who witnessed sexual harassment at work said they did not think it was their place to intervene

  • 18.2% of people who witnessed sexual harassment at work said they were too scared to intervene

  • 10.5 of people who witnessed sexual harassment at work said they 'didn't think it was worth the hassle' to intervene

Meanwhile almost a fifth of people (19.3%) said they had witnessed more than one incident of harassment, with 17.8% having seen behaviour of this type once.

However, when asked if they had intervened, fewer than half (43.3%) said they had done so.

Jordan Ferguson of Censuswide Scotland said the workplace analysis report had “looked at a number of key issues faced by Scottish workers”.

He stated: “The report revealed that an alarming number of Scottish women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.

“More importantly, it raises a serious concern as to why witnesses are failing to act. If Scottish workplaces are to learn from these results, it would be wise to look at the reasons why workers will not intervene or raise a grievance upon witnessing sexual harassment.”

Other reasons given by people for not acting included that they “didn’t think it was worth the hassle” (10.5%) or were too embarrassed (6.3%).

Meanwhile less than a third (32.5%) of those who had suffered harassment had raised the issue with their employer.

The most common reason for not doing so was they “didn’t think it was worth the hassle”, which was cited by 29.7% of those who had been harassed.

Meanwhile one in five (20.9%) said they were too scared to raise a grievance with their boss, 15.3% did not think they would be believed, and 12.3% were “too embarrassed” to do so.

Censuswide Scotland spoke to 1,001 people for the survey, with the research taking place between January 25 and Jaunary 29 this year.