Harassment and violence in the workplace: the importance of networking among institutional stakeholders.

Written by Angela Pisciotta

Over a million women have been victims of physical harassment or sexual blackmail in the workplace. This number represents the 8,9% of present and past working women, included the ones looking for work. In the 3 years previous to the investigation (2013-2016), more than 425.000 women have suffered from these kind of abuses (2,7%).

La percentuale di coloro che hanno subito molestie o ricatti sessuali sul lavoro negli ultimi tre anni è maggiore della media del 2,7% tra le donne da 25 a 34 anni (3,1%) e fra le 35-The percentage of women victims of harassment or sexual blackmail in the workplace is 2,7% higher than average for women between 25 and 34 years old (3,1%) and between 35 and 44 years old (3,3%).

Speaking about sexual blackmail only, 1 million and 173 thousands women (7,5%) have faced some form of sexual blackmail to obtain or maintain a job, or to get a promotion. In the last three years, this number seems to have decreased slightly: 167.000 women (1,1%) reported this abuse.

Sexual blackmail seems more frequent in central Italy, in the main municipalities of metropolitan areas and in municipalities with more than 50 thousands inhabitants.

32,4% of sexual blackmail episodes are reiterated daily or several times a week, while 17,4% happens once a week, 29,4% a couple of times a month and 19,2% more seldomly. In the last three years, the number of women that have been blackmailed daily or once a week is even higher (respectively 24,8% and 33,6%).

When a woman is victim of sexual harassment, 80,9% of cases doesn’t speak about it with anyone on the workplace.

Almost zero women denounced the abuse to the police: only 0,7% of blackmail victims (1,2% in the last three years). This number becomes even worse when we check how many of the women who went to the police actually sign a report: only 77,1%.

The most frequent reasons not to denounce are the perceived low gravity of the episode (27,4%) and lack of trust in the police or their inability to act (23,4%).

The blackmail strongly affects victims: 69,6% of women who suffered them believes they are serious or very serious, and this number increases to 72,8% in the last three years.

24,2% of women who suffered from sexual blackmail during their lives preferred not to tell how the episode ended (36,9% in the last three years). Among all victims of sexual blackmail, 33,8% voluntarily changed job or gave up on their careers, and 10,9% were fired or not hired.

The collaboration between the Female Entrepreneurship Committee and Palermo and Enna’s Chamber of Commerce’s Trusted Counselor.

Being Committee’s mission the empowerment of women in their careers, it decided to join and support Digital Observatory’s “6libera.org”, promoted by Confapi Sicilia’s President Dhebora Mirabelli.

The Committee will be in charge of promoting among employers’ associations and associated companies the Declaration of Unacceptability, to encourage businesses to become more and more ethical and take a stand in the fight against gender violence in the workplace.

We believe that silence and fear of denouncing have to be strongly fought, and at the same time we believe that businesses should create all right conditions to work safely, carefully monitoring any misconduct.

Observatory’s projects are supported by our study on the use of blockchain technology, useful to ensure anonymity and encourage reporting of abuses. Complaints collection and surveys among workers are useful to start safeguarding projects inside companies and to work as database which qualified institutions can consult to design specific strategies against this terrible phenomenon. It is necessary to make everyone understand that silence is not the answer and all abuses and conducts which undermine women’s freedom and opportunities must be reported.

The Committee, following Recommendation CEE 92/131, has promoted as well the Trusted Counselor nomination for Palermo and Enna’s Chamber of Commerce, with the adoption of an ethical code of conduct aimed at fighting violence on the workplace.

The synergic cooperation between Chamber of Commerce and Dhebora Mirabelli, Trusted Counselor, will find a new support in this ethical code, that will be divulgated inside the Chamber of Commerce as well to promote its pragmatic actualization.

Palermo and Enna’s Chamber of Commerce is the first reality in Sicily to adopt this code of conduct and work to promote its adoption on a regional level.

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