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Nordic women report some of the highest rates of violence and harassment at work in the world

A global safety charity has highlighted concerning gender-based disparities in experiences of workplace violence and harassment experience in all five Nordic countries.

The findings of the study are detailed in a report by Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Safe at Work? Global experiences of violence and harassment – and show that Finland (48%), Iceland (42%), Denmark (42%), Norway (42%) and Sweden (37%) are all among the top 10 countries globally where people said they had experienced violence and harassment at work. Each country’s experiences were well above the global average of 21%.

The results of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll, powered by Gallup, also found that women are significantly more likely than men to report experiencing violence and harassment at work in all five Nordic countries. The biggest difference was recorded in Denmark, at 23 percentage points (53% for women vs 30% for men).  

The report also explores the nature of violence and harassment experienced by respondents. Global data, as well as figures from all five Nordic countries, shows that psychological harassment is the most common form. However, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden all show higher-than-average proportions of women whose experience of violence and harassment at work included a sexual element At more than half, Iceland (54%) and Sweden (54%) recorded the highest figures among the Nordic countries, compared with the global average of 33%.

However, more encouragingly, the data also shows workers are more likely to tell someone about their experiences in all five Nordic countries than almost anywhere in the world. In Finland, for example, 80% of people who experienced violence and harassment at work said they had told someone – for instance, a friend, colleague or their employer – compared to the global average of 52%.

Dr Sarah Cumbers, Director of Evidence and Insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “The results from our World Risk Poll paint a concerning picture of a region that is often seen to be at the forefront of social progress, particularly in terms of women’s experiences of sexual harassment

“Indeed, it is an encouraging sign of progress that so many of those who experience violence and harassment at work in Nordic countries feel comfortable telling someone about it, and this may have had a corresponding impact on the high proportions who also told us about their experiences through the Poll.

“Nevertheless, recognising a problem is only the first step to addressing it, and our report should serve as a wake-up call to business leaders, governments and trade bodies about the continued prevalence of the issue. Nobody should suffer violence or harassment at work, and so zero-tolerance policies must be enforced.”

To compile the global report, 125,000 people across 121 countries were polled about their experiences of workplace violence and harassment. All those interviewed were given a comprehensive definition of each of the three forms of ‘violence and harassment’ (physical, psychological, and sexual) that they were asked about.

To download a copy of the report, click here.

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