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Sexual harassment scandals may affect behaviour at Christmas work parties, ITV News/ComRes poll suggests

  • Video report by ITV News national editor Allegra Stratton

In the wake of recent stories involving sexual harassment, a ComRes poll for ITV News has looked at how the scandals will impact on employees' behaviour at work Christmas parties.

Andrew Hawkins, the chairman of ComRes, outlines its main findings.

Welcome to Britain’s first #metoo Christmas party season, with both men and women having to adapt to a changing work culture in the wake of the sexual harassment revelations triggered by the Harvey Weinstein and 'Pestminster' scandal.

A series of allegations have been made against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein. Credit: AP

For many that culture change is well overdue. In the latest ComRes poll for ITV News, one in four women and nine percent of men say they have experienced sexual harassment in their workplace or place of study.

That equates to around 7 million women who have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in a place where they ought to feel totally safe.

1 in 4
women say they have experienced sexual harassment in their workplace or place of study.
Some respondents said they are now more likely to report workplace harassment. Credit: PA

The good news is that workplace sexual predators should be deterred this year from pestering colleagues.

Around one-third of women (31%) and 20% of men say that the news stories of harassment make them more likely to report workplace harassment.

1/3
of women say recent stories would make them more likely to report harassment at work

Less good news is that the revelations of sexual harassment and #metoo campaign are making the workplace for some an area of uncertainty and fear of a different kind.

One in four men (24%) and 16% of women say that the recent news stories of sexual harassment make them worried that a colleague could misunderstand their behaviour at this year’s Christmas party.

24%
of men said harassment stories make them worry a colleague could misunderstand their behaviour

Unsurprisingly perhaps, a quarter of all employees think that behaviour at the Christmas party will be more subdued. Some of our sample (7%) even report that their employer’s Christmas celebrations have been scrapped altogether over harassment concerns.

While some are concerned that their workplace might become less sociable because of #metoo (31% of men and 22% of women), there is a wider long-term expectation that workplace behaviour will improve.

Encouragingly, a third of women (32%) expect less sexual harassment, and 66% expect harassment generally to be more readily reported, as a result of the campaign.

Could there be more space on the dancefloor this year? Credit: ITN

Self-restraint will clearly be the theme for this Christmas party season and for the year ahead.

Four in ten men and 28% of women say they will take ‘more care’ over general conversation at work, a third of men will tone down jokes with colleagues and a similar proportion will take more care when socialising with colleagues outside of the workplace.

One in four overall say they are minded to avoid any kind of workplace physical contact at all, in order no doubt to play it safe.

1 in 4
want to avoid any kind of workplace physical contact at all.

Workplace practices naturally evolve over time but the #metoo campaign has brought about a sudden change in what is considered acceptable.

Even if some feel uncertain about what this means day to day, or are worried about their own behaviour being misinterpreted at this year’s Christmas party, the campaign has clearly succeeded in forcing Britain’s workers to consider more carefully the impact of their behaviour on other people and to be ready to call out abuse when it happens.

The survey of more than 2,000 adults was carried out on 6-7 December.

  • The views of Andrew Hawkins do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News