The high-profile reports of sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment industry has opened the door for more women to come forward with their own cases of workplace harassment

sexual harassment

A new report from Opinium Research has revealed a culture of abuse towards women and minority groups is still dominant in workplaces across the UK. Over 2.5 million (20%) have reported being a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace.

While the number of women who have reported cases of sexism and sexual harassment may seem substantial, two-thirds (67%) of women who have experienced this have not reported it, showing just how wildly unreported this issue is.

The reason why women are hesitant to report these cases seems to stem from the level of inaction from their companies, with a third (33%) saying their cases were never acted upon by senior management and a fifth (18%) of women stating their cases were not even acknowledged. Worryingly, 57% of women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace felt too intimidated by the way they were addressed at work to speak out.

James Endersby, managing director of Opinium comments: “The UK has made great steps to ensure everyone has basic rights and freedoms, however, our report highlights we still have some way to go. The stark reality of sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be addressed to prevent such acts occurring in the future, but to also encourage those affected to come forward and have their voices heard.”

1 in 10 (12%) women also reported they had been denied a job interview due to workplace sexism and of those who did gain employment less than half (48%) of women felt equal pay existed between sexes in their company.

This problematic behaviour isn’t only directed at women but also those from minority groups. Only 55% of those who have been subjected to racial discrimination have reported their cases to someone in their company. Ageism is among the least reported in cases of abuse as almost three-quarters (72%) of incidents go unreported and of those who did report ageism a quarter (25%) of cases were not acknowledged.

Cases of homophobia had the lowest rate of action, with over a third (43%0 of cases not being dealt with after they were reported.

A positive indication of change is that people felt discrimination at work has improved over the past decade, as the table below shows:

Discrimination TypeAbout the sameMore frequentLess frequent













Disability discrimination




Age discrimination




Religious discrimination




Sexual harassment





Endersby continues, “There also needs to be a significant attempt to tackle prejudicial workplace cultures; over a third (37%) of UK workers believe their fellow employees still hold discriminatory views but don’t voice them openly. Businesses should take a zero-tolerance stance to discrimination of any kind, but also encourage greater integration and debate if they are to effectively challenge these issues.”