One of the biggest surveys of women in the workplace has found that 64% have experienced bullying or harassment while at work.

The Project 28-30 report by Opportunity Now and PWC found that 52% of women had experienced bullying and harassment in the last three years yet less than 1% had actually reported it.

An additional 12% reported experiencing harassment of a sexual nature during the last three years, which includes unwelcome sexual approaches, offensive emails of a sexual nature, asking for sexual favours or unwanted physical contact.

The worst affected were those with disabilities, bisexual, lesbian and gay women, and Black British/African/Caribbean women, the report found.

The project surveyed 25,199 people in total and has gained the backing of the leadership of some of Britain’s biggest businesses.

Where incidents were reported, respondents generally found very negative experiences of how the situation was tackled.

“In mishandling what happened to me, so badly, the organisation completely destroyed my faith in it and any belief I had that such a situation would not happen again,” said one respondent.

“I am horrified actually, but I think there are a number of things we can do about it: zero tolerance, and you have to take decisive action,” said Debbie White, CEO of Sodexo.

“You have to rely on your line managers in a large organisation to ensure this is not going on and that you have an open culture which encourages reporting,” agreed Ruby MacGregor-Smith, CEO of Mitie. “Reporting is so important, we must ensure this is happening in an open way so we can address problems when they arise.”

The report also found that flexible working conditions were cited as one positive way to allow women a better work-life balance, although many companies still view this structure negatively.

Image by wikipedia commons