Sexism in the Workplace
Though we might like to believe otherwise, sexism (the belief that one sex/gender deserves inferior treatment) is still rampant in workplaces across the United Kingdom. Some statistics estimate that about 72% of women workers have experienced sexist bullying at work, while 85% of women workers believe that there is a bias towards males in their workplaces. Though there are laws that protect women’s employment rights, there is still much that must be left up to individuals and companies in order to ensure that fair treatment is extended to all workers.
Sexism and Employment LawA variety of laws work to provide equal rights to males and females in the United Kingdom. The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 protects individuals from being discriminated against in employment, vocational training, education, the provision and sale of goods, facilities and services, premises and the exercise of public functions due to their sex/gender. The Equal Pay Act of 1970 mandates equal pay for equal work regardless of an individual’s sex/gender. The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 also protect the rights of individuals who intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment. These Regulations pertain to pay and treatment in employment, self-employment and vocational training.
Sexism and CompaniesCompanies are vulnerable to the disruptions that sexism can cause to their business, including inferior work from those disrupted by sexism (both those perpetrating and those who are victims), law suits brought by those who feel that they have been discriminated against, payments ordered to victims of sexism and the bad press and fall out from losing a case brought by a former employee.
There is much that companies can do to ensure that they do not fall prey to these outcomes. Drafting and distributing the company’s policy towards sexism, and guidelines for how the company will deal with and investigate reports of sexism, is an important step. Ensuring that someone in the company is up to date with employment laws and that they company’s policies all comply with these laws is also vital. Finally, making sure that all employees are aware of the company’s stance toward sexism and that they understand that it will not be tolerated is imperative as well.
Sexism and IndividualsUnfortunately both laws and company policies need to be enforced by individuals and often people are unmotivated to do so, but there is still much that individuals can do in the workplace to reduce sexism and increase the fair treatment of all workers. Individuals can reconsider a stereotype, speak out against discrimination, cease to make sexist jokes and references, tell others that such jokes and references are unacceptable, and otherwise do all that (s)he can to learn from the talents of each individual, regardless of sex/gender. At the end of the day, fighting sexism in the workplace just means treating all co-workers with decency, respect and fairness – and that’s something that anyone can do.
Sexism in the workplace, though illegal, is still an issue across the United Kingdom. Though there are laws in place to protect the rights of all workers, many workplaces seem to ignore these laws and continue on as they see fit. A concerted effort from all employers and employees is needed to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly and with respect at work. And why would any one want to settle for any less?