More than half of the participants in a study conducted by the Social Action and Innovation Centre (KMOP) in Greece reported having experienced sexual harassment in their professional lives. The study is part of a wider European initiative, “Teamwork,” that seeks to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.
KMOP’s survey revealed that a majority of its participants (52.38%) had experienced sexual harassment during their professional life. Additionally, 42.86% of respondents stated that they had witnessed sexual harassment of colleagues in their workplace.
The vast majority of the sample group (91.27%) also believed that women are for more exposed to workplace sexual harassment than men.
The study also examined the existing framework in place to combat sexual harassment. A significant number (39.68%) of employee responders were not aware of their respective employers’ policies for assisting those experiencing sexual harassment. In fact, more (42.06%) reported that their employer did not have any bylaws or documents explicitly banning sexual harassment in the workplace.
Additionally, a large majority (73.02%) of business do not actively pursue a policy of supporting anonymous complaints on sexual harassment.
The study also illustrated the various manifestations of sexual harassment in the workplace. According to the participants, the most common (70.63%) occurrence of workplace sexual harassment are unsolicited sexual advances or offensive jokes.
Slightly fewer responders highlighted as major issues the use of sexual innuendos (65.08%), workplace discussions on the sex life of colleagues (59.52%), and sexual comments about people’s appearance (59.52%).
A small percentage of the participant pool reported that sexual exploitation is a widespread occurrence (2.38%) and that sexual assaults are commonplace in their workplace (1.59%).
The study comprised of interviews with (labor) union representatives, employers’ organizations, NGOs, the Greek Ombudsman, and an online survey for both employees and employers.
The aim of the study, which ran from June to September 2020, was to provide a comprehensive insight into sexual harassment in Greek workplaces.
Over 125 employees and 27 employers took part in the study, along with representatives from seven Greek institutions.
According to the project lead of the study, KMOP’s Natasa Alexopoulou, this blend of participants in the study allows it to portray an accurate representation of Greek society.
Greece has yet to fully come to terms with workplace sexual harassment as most people who have experienced it are still hesitant to come forward with their story. While a legal framework is in position to provide justice, it is considered slow, costly, and that it does not properly recompense the injured party.
Many of those who have experienced sexual harassment are wary of coming forward as there is still significant social stigma in Greece with doing so.