A new report on workplace sexual harassment has found that it is notably lower in the real estate industry than in a raft of other Australian industries, and that it occurs less frequently in real estate than the national prevalence rate.
The Australian Human Rights Commission 2018 report Everyone’s business: Fourth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces has found that the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment in the past five years is quite varied across all industries, but it is highest in information, media and telecommunications where a whopping 81 per cent of employees have reported incidents of it occurring.
Other industries that are high on the list are arts and recreation services at 49 per cent; electricity, gas, water and waste services at 47 per cent; retail trade at 42 per cent; mining at 40 per cent; and financial and insurance services, accommodation and food services and education and training — all at 39 per cent.
In rental, hiring and real estate services, the rate is 13 per cent, which is the lowest in all of the industries measured. In this category, 9 per cent of all men and 17 per cent of all women have been affected.
The national prevalence of workplace sexual harassment in the past five years is 33 per cent.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has released new figures that confirm people have told the commission that sexual harassment is widespread and pervasive, and that it has increased significantly from the last survey six years ago.
Commissioner Jenkins said that sexual harassment is a problem that affects millions of Australians, particularly in our workplaces.
“One in three people surveyed told us they have been sexually harassed at work in the last five years,” the commissioner said.
“The survey results highlight that this is an issue that affects both women and men. Almost two in five women, 39 per cent, and just over one in four men, 26 per cent, told us that they have been sexually harassed at work in the past five years.”
Commissioner Jenkins said that the figures are unacceptable.
“[They] have increased significantly since the last survey in 2012, which found one in five people, 21 per cent, had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the previous five-year period.”
She also said that people aged 18 to 29 were more likely than those in any other age groups to tell the commission that they have experienced workplace sexual harassment in the past five years, at 45 per cent.
“The findings are more timely and relevant today than ever before, with the huge surge in public concern about sexual harassment generated by the #MeToo movement and the willingness of people to say that, they, too, have been affected,” Commissioner Jenkins said.
She added that the results reveal that formal reporting of workplace sexual harassment continues to be low, with fewer than one in five people making a report or complaint.
“We know from our research that many people are afraid to report their experiences of unwelcome sexual conduct out of fear that they won’t be believed, that it’s not worth it, that they’ll be ostracised and that it could damage their career.
“It’s also worrying that almost half of those who did make a formal report said that nothing changed at their organisation, as a result of the complaint.
“Unwelcome sexual conduct on this scale in the workplace not only causes distress to workers and colleagues, it impacts workplace productivity and impedes career progression, which has an economic impact on businesses and families.”
The survey results will inform the Australian Human Rights Commission’s national inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, which will begin public consultations later this month.