In addition to gathering internal testimonials of women working within politics, The Fawcett Society disseminated a public survey to capture societal attitudes to the Westminster sexual harassment scandal that received widespread media attention 2017 through 2018. This report also draws best practice in addressing sexual harassment within politics from comparative nations including Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia.
Serenity in Leadership has provided a brief summary of this Report below, though further information can be found at https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=6d479f99-6eff-48c1-a28e-0b4bf408a954
- There is a clear public demand for change as to how sexual harassment in politics should be addressed in future: regardless of their age, gender or political affiliation, 73% of both men and women agree that there needs to be a change in how unwanted sexual behaviour is handled within the political sphere.
- 77% of the public believe there should be clear opportunities and procedures for targets of sexual harassment within politics to make their experiences known and achieve redress for them.
- Such a system would have to guarantee its independence, anonymity and public-facing nature (whereby the results of any investigations would be made publicly available without endangering the anonymity of those giving testimony).
- In terms of sanctioning for proven sexual misconduct, 70% of respondents believe MPs should be removed from office and banned from re-election for a certain time, 70% believe MP’s constituents should be permitted to trigger an election in their constituency, 70% think the MP should issue a public apology, 68% believe the MP should apologise to the House of Commons and 65% believe the MP should undergo training to better understand and address their conduct.
- Sexual harassment in Westminster has contributed to the growing political apathy that exists within the UK; 29% of respondents to this survey believed that this scandal made them less likely to get involved in politics themselves with 23% admitting it made them less likely to vote.
This report lays out the following recommendations to prevent future incidences of sexual harassment within the political domain:
1. Ensure that the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme is fully independent
2. Ensure the ICGS prioritises the wishes of the victim before making testimonials public
3. Ensure complaints policies within political parties are effective and go far enough to address sexual harassment
4. All legislation protecting political figures from sexual harassment must cover their staff and volunteers
5. 3rd party protection must be assured for all workers
6. Ensure an active legal obligation exists for all employers to have preventative measures at the ready