Experiences of Workplace Sexual Harassment Greatly Increased for LGBTQ+ Women in Wales
Data launched today from Welsh Women’s Aid shows that LGBTQ+ women in Wales are more likely to experience sexual harassment at work, compared to heterosexual women.
A survey from Welsh Women’s Aid’s #NoGreyArea campaign found that 97% of LGBTQ+ women in Wales have experienced workplace sexual harassment, compared to 77% of heterosexual women.
The findings also show that 81% of LGBTQ+ women experienced sexual harassment at work on more than one occasion, compared to 67% of heterosexual women.
Chief Exec of Welsh Women’s Aid, Sara Kirkpatrick, said; “We know that the vast majority of women in Wales have experienced workplace sexual harassment and our research shows LGBTQ+ women experience even greater levels of workplace sexual harassment than their heterosexual colleagues.
“It is vital that in our efforts to tackle sexual harassment, we understand how this abuse intersects with other forms of discrimination in the workplace. This is having a hugely detrimental impact on the job security and career opportunities of LGBTQ+ women in Wales.
“Everyone has the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment. Employers need to ensure that their workplaces are safe and inclusive spaces and that survivors feel believed and supported if they do disclose sexual harassment.”
Welsh Women’s Aid spoke to Lucy* who has experienced years of sexual harassment working in a male-dominated industry. She said: “As soon as people found out I had a girlfriend, the sexual harassment I received was just horrendous. The obscene sexual things they would say to me were just disgusting. They would say it in the office in front of a room full of people and it was so embarrassing and belittling. I was being boiled down to nothing more than my sexuality. It was awful.
“Every single time I’d ask them to stop, I’d hear ‘it was just a joke’. When you hear that so often, you do start to question yourself and wonder if there’s something wrong with how you’re reacting to these things.
“There was one co-worker that would say things to me about my body and ask questions about my relationships. He would over-sexualise me to the point that I would wear an oversized company work fleece to the office just for an easier life. I shouldn’t have had to do that.
“There is such a ‘boys’ club’ culture in so many industries and they get away with so much. They feel like they can’t speak up against the behaviour. They know their workmates will make fun of them. It feels like a cycle you can’t break.”
Welsh Women’s Aid’s survey of over 200 women (32 of whom identified as LGBTQ+) also found that:
- 68% of LGBTQ+ women who responded to the survey said they had experienced sexual harassment at work from more than one perpetrator.
- 100% of LGBTQ+ women responding to the survey said that they had experienced sexual harassment at work from a man.
- LGBTQ+ women are far more likely (70%>49%) to be told that conversations that made them feel uncomfortable were ‘jokes’ or ‘banter’, compared to heterosexual women.
- LGBTQ+ women are far more likely (87%>54%) to experience unwanted physical touch at work than heterosexual women.
- The majority of LGBTQ+ women (73%) did not report their experience of sexual harassment at work.
- The majority of LGBTQ+ women (69%) feel that employers could do more to tackle sexual harassment at work.
Statistics and quotes can be viewed and downloaded here:
No Grey Area – LGBTQ+ women and sexual harassment at work
Anyone in Wales who is experiencing sexual harassment, domestic abuse, sexual violence and other forms of violence against women or is concerned about someone else can contact the 24-hour Live Fear Free Helpline (phone: 0808 80 10 800, webchat: www.livefearfree.wales, text: 078600 77 333, email: [email protected]) for confidential help and support.
*name changed to protect identity
Notes to editors:
- For further information, please contact Charlotte Archibald (Strategic Communications Officer) at Welsh Women’s Aid on [email protected] or Sophie Weeks (Media & External Relations Officer) at Welsh Women’s Aid on [email protected]
- Welsh Women’s Aid is the national charity in Wales working to end domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women. We are a federation of specialist organisations in Wales (working as part of a UK network of services) that provide lifesaving services to survivors of violence and abuse – women, men, children, families – and deliver a range of innovative preventative services in local communities. More information is available at http://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk/
- Welsh Women’s Aid’s ‘No Grey Area’ campaign is funded by Rosa and the Justice and Equality Fund Changing the Conversation programme.