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Press statement – Sexism in the City

The Sexism In The City report released Friday 08 March, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, quotes extensively from Protect’s research – and calls for stronger protections for whistleblowers in sexual harassment cases.

Commenting on the report, Sybille Raphael, Protect’s Legal Director said:

“The findings of the Sexism in the City report come as no surprise. We hear everyday from whistleblowers reporting sexual and non-financial misconduct in the workplace whose employers are failing to address their concerns.

We submitted evidence for inclusion in the report which shows:

  • 70% of whistleblowers in the financial services sector were dismissed, victimised or felt that resignation was their only option
  • a third of whistleblowers contacting our Advice Line said their complaint had been ignored by their employer

Sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be viewed as a problem for everyone to solve, not just those experiencing harassment but for all, including men. Placing the burden of raising wrongdoing on the shoulder of the victim – the most vulnerable – is just not working.

Workplaces need upstanders, not just bystanders. Having a whistleblowing policy and embedding an effective speak-up culture is essential for all organisations – as with all risks, organisations need to be able to detect and mitigate problems as soon as possible.

And whistleblowing is not easy. Whistleblowers need to be empowered – not just allowed – to speak up.

But even more pressing is making sure that when people come forward they are actively listened to. Whistleblowers need to be confident that action will be taken and they won’t be ignored.

Disappointedly but maybe unsurprisingly, this report found HR teams prioritised the reputation of a business over the wellbeing of its individual employees. Whistleblowing represents a real opportunity to prevent further harm but too often employers respond defensively. A society in which individuals are not empowered to speak out against wrongdoing is one where harm will persist, or even go completely undetected.

We need employers to step up and be proactive when it comes whistleblowing.  The government needs to impose a legal duty on all employers to investigate whistleblowing concerns in order for women working in the Financial Sector to know the issue is being properly addressed.”

Notes to editors:   

For more information, and to arrange an interview, please contact:
Mark Ellis, Head of Commmunications
0203 117 2520 ex. 1038

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