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Has The #Metoo Movement Actually Made A Difference?


For some people and groups, it absolutely has. The #metoo movement has brought the severity of harassment in and outside the workplace to the forefront of people’s minds, and while some would argue that it has caused a level of hysteria, most agree that it has shone a light on a part of our society that needed to be exposed. But while those groups can see a positive difference in harassment and behaviour (particularly towards women), there is a group who are still struggling with the same problems – and the #metoo movement hasn’t made a single bit of difference.

Sexual Harassment And The LGBTQ+ Community

Since the initial flurry of the #metoo movement, new reports of sexual harassment in the workplace have generally dropped – which is great news. But within the LGBTQ+ community, a high number of workers continue to experience sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace. Reports and studies show that:

  • Approximately 68% of LGBTQ+ workers have experienced at least one type of sexual harassment at work.
  • 12% of LGBTQ+++ women have reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work.
  • Two-thirds of those who were harassed did not report it.
  • One in four of those who did not report harassment did so to avoid ‘outing’ themselves at work.

When you look at the figures like that, it’s easy to see that we still have a very big problem. There is no question that the #metoo movement has raised awareness of sexual harassment and assault within our society. But when groups are still suffering the same marginalisation, harassment and assault, there is always more than can be done.

What Can You Do?

So now the question is, what can you as an employer do to make sure this kind of sexual harassment isn’t happening under your roof? We have a few suggestions.

Have A Harassment Policy In Place – And Enforce It

At the end of the day, sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment are all protected characteristics under The Equality Act 2010 – which means it is your job to protect your LGBTQ+ employees from harassment or discrimination. Take a look at your policies around harassment and bullying, and make sure you detail how reports of harassment will be dealt with. And then – enforce it. Don’t sweep things under the rug if they become difficult or uncomfortable, or if they are difficult to prove. It is your duty to investigate fairly and take action against any form of harassment in your company. Once you start enforcing this policy, it will act as a deterrent for future incidents.

Open More Channels Of Communication

There is no doubt that when an incident is reported and dealt with, it is a deterrent from it happening again. But with so many LGBTQ+ workers afraid of reporting sexual harassment and assault at work, that can make things difficult for employers to act on. The key here is to pen up more lines of communication with employees that make it easier to report incidents. Anonymous reporting is a valuable tool here, as it can allow LGBTQ+ employees to report harassment and assault without ‘outing’ themselves, overcoming that fear barrier. As an employer, your job is to make it as easy as possible for your employees to report problems to you in whatever manner they feel comfortable. So look into anonymous reporting methods, or assign a specific LGBTQ+ advisor who can handle these issues with care and sensitivity.

Always Stay On The Right Side!

Of course, it’s one thing to have a policy in place, and quite another to understand what it means and how to follow it properly. If you’re having issues with staff, sexual harassment or LGBTQ+ employees, it doesn’t hurt to get a little help and advice from the employment law experts. At Herefords, we offer hands-on, practical advice and guidance around all elements of employment law. Our service is all about guiding you through the minefield, helping you to understand the law and how it applies to your business, including any new changes that come in. And thanks to our new Employment Law Retainer, you can be confident that your key HR decisions and advice are compliant and appropriate. You can find out more about our employment law retainer by clicking here.

Or for more information on handling issues in the workplace, you can get in touch with us and book your free consultation.


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