New research reveals that 1 in 4 women working in public affairs report experiencing sexual harassment at work. That's not just bad news for those working in the industry, but for public policy, tooby Stephanie Boland / October 24, 2019 / Leave a comment
Two years on from #metoo, the question of what has actually changed is at the centre of conversations around women, harassment and the workplace.
Most recently, activists and staffers working in Westminster have made headlines for their attempts to combat gendered discrimination and violence across politics, including via an anonymous dedicated helpline.
At the BBC, claims of pay discrimination have coalesced into a long-running and multi-faceted campaign over women’s earnings, with the press this week widely reporting Samira Ahmed’s decision to take the broadcaster to court over what she claims was an “unequal” salary.
These cases have rightly received extensive scrutiny—partially based on the understanding that, aside from the wellbeing and safety of those involved, it is particularly important that the people who shape our laws and create our media are not themselves compromised.
Yet there are other, adjacent industries where women’s experiences have not made the news to the same extent.
Not working for women
When Ella Fallows and Laura Gilmore set up Women in Public Affairs (WiPA) in 2012, they aimed to create an informal support network in which women at all stages of their careers could offer advice, share their experiences and receive support.
Now, they’ve commissioned research with Opinium into women’s treatment in the industry—and found that public affairs, as they put it, “isn’t working for many women.”
Particularly shocking is the news that 1 in 4 women in the sector report experiencing sexual harassment at work.
Given that the TUC reports that four out of every five women who have been sexually harassed at work across the UK “do not feel able” to report it to their employer, creating a safe environment to speak out—and ensuring the processes to support complainants are working properly—ought to be a priority across every industry.
The WiPA report, however, shows that 1 in 3 women saying public affairs is “poor” at protecting women and helping them deal with harassment.
“It’s still a ‘macho’ industry”
If that statistic is particularly disappointing, it comes as part of a discouraging picture for women’s inclusivity and rights across the board.
The research also found that almost two-thirds of women feel their company…