Which sectors have the most sexual harassment?

Report finds one in three employees have been harassed at work – but very few people report bad behaviour

Which sectors have the most sexual harassment?

The information, media, and telecommunications sector had the highest level of workplace sexual harassment cases over the past five years, according to a new report. 

The incidence of workplace sexual harassment in the sector is at 64% — nearly double the national average of 33%, according to a survey of more than 10,000 people conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

Other sectors that went above the national average include:

  • arts and recreation services (44%)
  • electricity, gas, and waste services (40%)
  • retail trade (40%)
  • accommodation and food services (34%)

The report came days after the Parliament passed the [email protected] Bill in a bid to stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace.

Incidence rate

According to the report, one in three employees were sexually harassed at work over the last five years, while one in five experienced this in the last 12 months.

Younger employees between ages 15 and 17 were also more likely to experience workplace sexual harassment, with a 47% incidence rate, the AHRC report revealed. Employees aged 18 to 29 were close behind at 46%.

Other groups that are more likely to experience sexual harassment include LGBTQ+ employees (46%), people with an intersex variation (70%), people with disability (48%), and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (56%).

It is "unacceptable" that Australian employees continue to experience sexual harassment, said sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins.

"Though disappointing, it is not surprising that these results are similar to the previous survey's results because most of the recommendations from the [email protected] Report have only recently been acted on, and some are still being implemented,” Jenkins said.

Low report rates

Despite high incidence rates, only 18% of employees have reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. According to the respondents, their reasons for not bringing it up include:

  • It wasn't serious enough (42%)
  • It was easier to keep quiet (38%)
  • People would think they are overreacting (31%)
  • It would not change things or nothing would be done (28%)

The report supported the last reason, as 40% of the respondents who filed a complaint said no changes occurred at their workplace after their report.

Jenkins urged employees to visit the [email protected] portal to get information on how to respond to incidents of sexual harassment.


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