According to the results of a survey released on Tuesday, one-in-three United Nations employees have reported suffering sexual harassment at the global organization over the past two years.
The figure went up to 38.7% for those who reported experiencing some sort of sexual harassment during their time at United Nations.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is reported to have told staff in a letter that the study contained “some sobering statistics and evidence of what needs to change” to improve the workplace at the United Nations.
Appealing for higher standards of behaviour to his staff, Guterres said, “Perhaps one of the more important findings of the survey is that exclusion and incivility are highly correlated with incidents of harassment, providing a permissive atmosphere for such behaviour.”
Guterres stated further, “The results confirm that these have a debilitating effect on staff morale and on work performance and there are continued barriers to reporting, including fear of retaliation and perception that perpetrators, for the most part, enjoy impunity.”
The most common types of harassment reported in the survey were “sexual stories or jokes that were offensive” and “offensive remarks about appearance, body or sexual activities.” However, more serious transgressions were also reported as common, including offensive gestures and touching, and unwelcome attempts at conversation about sexual matters.
According to the survey, two-thirds of the harassers were men and one out of four were supervisors or managers. Nearly one in ten harassers were senior leaders. The consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu was commissioned by Guterres to conduct the first-ever “Me Too” survey of the employees of the UN worldwide.