One in seven workers admit to harassing colleagues

Man harassing woman in office with computer. | Newsreel
Workplace technology is being used to engage in sexual harassment. | Photo: Inhaus Creative (iStock)

One in seven Australians have admitted to using workplace technology to sexually harass a colleague.

A survey by Monash University and RMIT University found evolving technologies in the workplace had created new mediums for sexual harassment.

Researchers surveyed more than 3000 Australians and facilitated focus groups as part of the project investigating Workplace Technology-Facilitated Sexual Harassment (WTFSH).

They found 24 percent of men surveyed had engaged in WTFSH, with 52 percent thinking the recipient would be okay with it, 45 percent thinking they would be flattered and 42 percent thinking “it was funny”.

More than 40 percent said they wanted to pursue a sexual relationship with the person.

One in four respondents said they were motivated by negative feelings like wanting to humiliate (30 percent), frighten (30 percent), or hurt the feelings of (30 percent) the victim.

WTFSH involves unwelcome or threatening sexual conduct using mobile, online and other digital technologies in a workplace context.

It can include a wide range of behaviours within and beyond the workplace, and during or after business hours.

Behaviours may include unwelcome sexual advances, comments and jokes, sexual requests, sharing, or threatening to share sexual images, as well as threats of physical violence

The survey found male-dominated workplaces were associated with much higher rates of WTFSH than workplaces dominated by women and that sexist attitudes and the endorsement of sexual harassment myths were two of the strongest predictors of engagement in WTFSH.

Read the full report or a summary.

Downlead a Workplace Technology-Facilitated Sexual Harassment factsheet.