Employees should be able to report sexual harassment “in confidence and without fear”, the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) Director General, Carolyn Fairbairn, has said.
The CBI speaks for around 190,000 businesses in total, employing seven million workers across the country.
It follows a series of historic sexual harassment claims, including those made in Westminster against several high ranking members of Parliament. Last week, the defence secretary Michael Fallon stepped down from his role after it was alleged that the MP had “lunged” at a journalist and attempted to kiss her in 2003.
Ms Fairbairn said there can be “no doubt” that sexual harassment exists elsewhere, including in some businesses.
She is calling on businesses to ensure there are clear processes for employees to report concerns over sexual harassment, as well as develop a code of conduct about what is and what is not acceptable behaviour.
“Sexual harassment in all forms is unacceptable. The harm done to people’s lives, self-esteem, confidence and dignity is profound. We must work together to stamp it out,” she said.
“Businesses take the treatment and welfare of their employees very seriously. But sexual harassment is often hidden and can take many forms. It takes committed leadership to ensure the workplace is free from sexual harassment.”
A recent BBC report revealed that half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or in a place of study.