By Staff Reporter
Nine out of ten women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace have not spoken out for fear of losing their jobs, Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou said on Monday.
The minister’s address was read out by the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations Andreas Mylonas, at an event at the Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING), which has adopted a code of conduct in line with the policies of the Gender Equality Commission.
In her speech, Emilianidou said in nine out of ten cases of sexual harassment, men were the perpetrators, but around one in ten cases involved sexual harassment by women against men.
“The perpetrators were mainly senior to or on an equal footing professionally with their victims,” she said.
Sexual harassment can occur in three ways, verbal, physical and visual, she said.
“Sexual harassment is a social phenomenon that affects human dignity and the principle of equal treatment. It is – especially in the workplace – a relatively common attack against workers and especially women, who stay silent, fearing vilification and the deterioration of their working conditions,” she said.
The minister said the most important deterrent against sexual harassment in the workplace was staff training about what is unacceptable behavior.
“The employer must take all appropriate measures. Otherwise he or she is jointly liable with the perpetrator,” she said.
“The employer will suffer the consequences for civil damages whether or not he or she knew, didn’t know, approved or not, or encouraged or not.”
Emilianidou congratulated the institute for its pioneering decision to adopt the gender commission’s code for prevention and response to sexual harassment in the workplace.
“The benefits of adopting practices that promote equality in the workplace are significant both for employees and for the organisation,” she said.
“Employees enjoy a more enhanced working environment and significantly improved working conditions, while the organisation benefits from higher productivity, increasing efficiency and competitiveness.”
CING, she said would be certified by the state for best practices in the area of gender equality in the workplace, adding that this would enhance the organisation as an equal opportunities employer, and help it to attract high-calibre staff.
Emilianidou also said the state was working on ways to reduce the gender wage gap including an integrated package of measures.