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Northern Ireland has highest rate of sexual harassment in UK workplace, but no one's admitting blame


Report: Liz Hughes

Report: Liz Hughes

Report: Liz Hughes

Northern Ireland has the highest rate of sexual harassment in the workplace in the UK - but no one is admitting to any blame, according to shocking new statistics.

Seventeen percent of people here said they have experienced sexual harassment by someone in a superior position, the research indicated. 

However, every single person questioned said they had never used their position to do so.

While the country had the highest percentage of workers reporting sexual harassment, it was the only UK region where no one admitted to the abuse.

Northern Ireland had more than double the next highest figure for harassment - 8% for Scotland and London.

The regions which had the lowest figure were the Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales, where only 3% of people reported seeing sexual harassment in their place of work.

The damning report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) makes for grim reading when Northern Ireland is compared to other UK regions about ethical workplace behaviour.

The province also had the highest incidence of people being put under pressure to act unethically at work.

A whopping 89% of workers admitted they had been pressured, considerably higher than the national average of 76%.

Examples of unethical tasks include talking about a colleague behind their back, misusing the company's time, lying to hide mistakes, bullying, stealing from work, using bias to promote or avoid promoting someone and using a position of power to harass someone.

When asked if they considered ethics to be important in the workplace, 11% of people in Northern Ireland claimed they do not see why they are important - the only UK region to hit double figures.

Oddly, despite 100% of people here saying they think they act ethically on a daily basis, only 39% of people said they thought that ethics mattered.

In the South West of England, 87% put ethics at the top of their work ethic. Liz Hughes, head of ACCA, said more needs to be done to tackle workplace problems.

"Although 100% of those surveyed in Northern Ireland claim to act ethically in the workplace it is clear to see that this does not translate in practise," she said.

"When questioned more specifically, 25% admit to talking behind colleagues' backs and misusing company time.

"With 22% never considering the ethical implications of their behaviour and employees consistently admitting to seeing their colleagues act unethically, it is evident that more needs to be done to educate employers and their staff on the importance of ethics." She added: "Global Ethics Day is when organisations around the world come together to discuss the importance of moral values in business and international affairs.

"Ethics must be at the heart of company culture." Northern Ireland also comes out worse when office gossip is concerned, with 67% admitting that they have seen colleagues talking about each other behind their backs, 56% saying they have had it happen to them but only 25% admitting that they do it.

The survey also indicates that workplace bullying is rife in Northern Ireland, with 33% of us saying that they have experienced it.

However, a mere 3% admit that they have been responsible for it.

Belfast Telegraph