Women bear burden of stopping misogyny in the workplace
After Angela Rayner’s experience of misogyny in the workplace this week, Rachel Phillips, Employment Solicitor at JMW Solicitors, says: “Whilst some may look at their workplace and believe there is no such problem, countless women are still feeling the pressure to alter their behaviour and avoid unwanted attention and comments at work. Individual women bear the heavy burden of trying to stop misogyny in the workplace, often at great personal and professional risk to themselves, by adjusting their own behaviours, leaving jobs, or engaging with reporting and investigating systems that do not suit their needs. It is clear that more action needs to be taken to put a stop to misogyny not only in Westminster but in all workplaces across the UK. Misogynistic behaviour could amount to sex discrimination, victimisation or harassment.”
Rachel’s guidance for employees and employers
If employees do feel they are suffering sexist treatment, a first step is to raise issues informally with a supervisor or HR colleague. If a more formal avenue is required, employees should follow their employer’s grievance procedure. Employees will only have the confidence to speak up and raise issues to HR if they feel safe and supported in the workplace. Importantly, women should not have to adjust their behaviour to address misogynistic and sexist behaviour.
It is also important to add that transgender and non-binary employees also face high levels of discrimination within the workplace.
Misogynistic and sexist behaviour can have detrimental effects for an employer:
Holds employees back from senior positions and channels women to stereotypically ‘feminine’ roles.
Risks losing valuable female talent.
Negatively affects employees’ performance, sense of belonging, mental health and job satisfaction.
Damages an organisation’s image.
Could lead to Employment Tribunal claims which are time-consuming, costly and risk damaging reputation.
Employers need to be careful to assess their workplace policies, dress codes, gender pay gaps, promotional patterns as well as their overall culture.
Employers can help by having clear company policies on required standards of behaviour (including anti-harassment and bullying policies), staff training to handle complaints, allowing flexible working, having family friendly policies, avoiding role stereotyping, closing the gender pay gap, promoting a respectful and inclusive culture and importantly engaging men in the conversation. Practical and meaningful steps need to be taken to identify and eliminate all forms of everyday sexism.