743 million people experience workplace violence worldwide


About 743 million people experience violence and harassment in the workplace, according to a global survey released Monday.

This number represents 22.8 percent of the world’s population and more than one in five people who experience at least one form of violence in the workplace.

Noble ‘Experiences of violence and harassment at work: a first global survey’the survey found that violence and harassment in the workplace take different forms, including physical, psychological and sexual.

It looks at factors that may prevent people from talking about their experiences, including shame, guilt, a lack of trust in institutions, or because such unacceptable behavior is considered “normal.”

The survey, which is the first of its kind, is a joint analysis of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) and Gallup.

Infographic on workplace violence – Photo credit: ILO

According to the survey, violence and harassment at work cause harm to individuals, families, businesses and societies. It affects the life, dignity, health and well-being of people. It also exacerbates inequality in societies and undermines business productivity.

“There should be no place or tolerance for violence and harassment at work, anywhere. To prevent and address it effectively, we need to know it better. We need to know what types of violence and harassment at work are most prevalent and where, and who is most exposed and why,” the survey said, underlining its importance.

the survey

Approximately 125,000 interviews were conducted in 121 countries and territories, collecting information on people’s experiences of violence and harassment at work.

The interviews were conducted in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic as part of the Global Risk Survey.

Interviews in 62 countries were conducted by telephone and the other 52 were conducted in person.

Frequency of violence

Violence and harassment at work are widespread and recurring phenomena around the world, says the survey.

It revealed that among people who had experienced violence and harassment at work, around a third (31.8 per cent) said they had experienced more than one form, with 6.3 per cent having faced all three forms in their life. Laboral life.

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More than three in five victims of workplace violence said they have had multiple experiences, and for most of them, the last incident took place in the last five years.

physical violence

Nearly one in ten (8.5 percent or 277 million) people in employment have experienced physical violence and harassment at work in their working life, and men are more likely to report it than women.

psychological violence

Psychological violence and harassment was the most common form of violence and harassment reported by both men and women, with nearly one in five (17.9 percent or 583 million) people in employment experiencing it in their working lives.

sexual violence

One in fifteen (6.3 percent or 205 million) employed people have experienced workplace violence and sexual harassment in their working lives. Women were particularly exposed to sexual violence and harassment at work.

The data showed by far the largest gender difference (8.2% female and 5.0% male). Women suffered more violence and sexual harassment than physical and psychological.

Who is more exposed to discrimination? Survey data shows that certain demographic groups are at risk of violence and harassment at work.

“Young, migrant, wage-earning, and salaried women and men were more likely to face violence and harassment at work, and this may be particularly true among women,” she said.

For example, the results show that young women were twice as likely as young men to have experienced sexual violence and harassment, and migrant women were nearly twice as likely as non-migrant women to report sexual violence and harassment. .

In addition, people who have suffered discrimination at some point in their lives based on gender, disability status, nationality/ethnicity, skin color and/or religion were more likely to have experienced violence in the workplace than those who did not. suffered such discrimination.

Additionally, nearly five in 10 people who have experienced gender discrimination have also faced workplace violence, compared to two in 10 who have not been discriminated against based on gender.

Reporting workplace violence is a waste of timeMany believe that reporting a case of violence or harassment is a “waste of time” and damaging to your reputation.

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These two factors topped the list of barriers that discouraged people from talking about their own experiences of violence and harassment at work.

Other factors include unclear procedures at work; lack of trust in the police, community leaders or labor inspectors; concern that people will find out at work; not know what to do; and fear of punishment.

Many victims of this type of violence find it difficult to talk to anyone about their experiences, and when they do, they mostly tell family or friends.

“Only just over half (54.4 percent) of victims have shared their experience with someone, and often only after experiencing more than one form of violence and harassment. People were also more likely to tell their friends or family, rather than using other informal or formal channels,” the survey found.

Regional difference The working class in high-income countries had the highest prevalence of violence in the workplace, and low- and lower-middle-income countries had the lowest prevalence, both over the entire working life and in the last five years .

The survey data showed that the Americas had the highest prevalence rate at 34.3 percent.

Africa ranks second with 25.7 percent. Europe and Central Asia ranked third with 25.5 percent; Asia and the Pacific at 19.2 percent and the Arab States recorded the least violence in the workplace at 13.6 percent.

Interestingly, women in high-income countries were more likely to experience workplace violence and harassment than their male counterparts, at 38.7% and 26.3%, respectively.

In the Americas, women were more likely than men to have experienced violence and harassment in their working lives (39.0% vs. 30.8%), followed by Europe and Central Asia (8.0 percentage points) and the Arab States (5.9 percentage points) .

In contrast, in both upper-middle-income countries and low- and lower-middle-income countries, men were more likely than women to experience violence and harassment in their working lives (by 5.9 percentage points and 1. 0 percentage points, respectively).

In Asia and the Pacific and Africa, men were more likely than women to have had such experience, both in their working life and in the last five years (by 3.2 percentage points and 2.2 percentage points, respectively).

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“It is painful to know that people face violence and harassment not just once, but several times in their working lives,” said Manuela Tomei, ILO Assistant Director-General for Governance, Rights and Dialogue.

“Psychological violence and harassment are the most frequent in all countries and women are particularly exposed to sexual violence and harassment. The report tells us about the enormity of the task ahead to end violence and harassment in the world of work. I hope it will accelerate action on the ground and towards the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 190,” she said.


Lloyd’s Register Foundation Director of Evidence and Insights, Sarah Cumbers, notes that “to address such difficult and entrenched global security challenges as violence and harassment at work, good data is critical to understanding the extent of the problem and to identify those most at risk, especially in places where little reliable data may have previously existed.

The survey recommended the regular collection of robust data on violence and harassment at work, at the national, regional and global levels, to inform laws and mechanisms, prevention and redress policies and programmes, as well as research and advocacy.

It also recommended updated mechanisms to effectively prevent and manage violence and harassment in the world of work, including through labor inspection systems and occupational health and safety policies and programmes.

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Recommended increased awareness of violence and harassment at work, including its different manifestations, with a view to changing perceptions, stigmas, attitudes and behaviors that can perpetuate violence and harassment, particularly those based on The discrimination.

It also recommended improving the capacity of institutions at all levels to provide effective prevention, remediation and support, to build people’s trust in justice and ensure that victims receive support.

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