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New Global Poll: Significant Share of Men Believe Expecting Intimate Interactions, Sex from Employees is OK

CARE launches #ThisIsNotWorking campaign to fight harassment in the workplace
CARE launches #ThisIsNotWorking campaign to fight harassment in the workplace

At pivotal #MeToo moment around the world, CARE launches #ThisIsNotWorking campaign calling for new global law to end workplace harassment and abuse

ATLANTA (March 8, 2018) — Nearly a quarter of men (23%) across eight countries think it’s sometimes or always acceptable for an employer to ask or expect an employee to have intimate interactions such as sex with them, a family member or a friend, according to a new global survey on sexual harassment commissioned by the poverty-fighting organization CARE. The figure was highest in Egypt, where a full 62% of men said it’s sometimes or always OK for employers to ask/expect intimate interactions from employees, according to the online survey of 9,408 adults ages 18+ conducted by Harris Poll Jan. 19-31. The countries surveyed were: Australia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.

“Being expected to have sex with your employer — that’s not a job description, it’s sexual abuse,” said Michelle Nunn, CARE’s president and CEO. “And it speaks to the global epidemic of harassment and abuse in our workplaces.”

CARE commissioned the survey to better understand the often-unspoken rules and perceptions that underlie that epidemic worldwide. It found wide gaps between what men and women find acceptable at work in most countries surveyed. In the U.S., for example, 44% of men age 18-34 say it’s sometimes or always acceptable to tell a sexual joke to a colleague at work, while only 22% of women in that age group do. And, in India, more than half of men (52%) say it’s sometimes (34%) or always (18%) acceptable to rank colleagues based on their appearance, while only 35% of women say that’s sometimes or always OK.

But the survey also reveals hope for progress in the fight against sexual harassment. Some 65 percent of women across the eight countries surveyed say they believe the #MeToo movement will have a positive impact on workplace behavior in their countries. And 56% of women across the eight countries say recent sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood and other high-profile industries will lead to improved workplace behavior in most industries, not just entertainment.

“The immediate impact of the #MeToo movement inspires us,” Nunn said. “But the long-term test is not whether it brings down dozens of powerful men in the United States, but whether it lifts up millions of women around the world. And this survey tells us that women aren’t just hoping #MeToo will spark real change –- they’re expecting it.”

CARE is releasing the results of its poll as part of its new #ThisIsNotWorking campaign and calling on the International Labour Organization to create a new convention, or global law, around freedom from violence in the workplace. CARE is asking supporters to sign a petition and push the ILO to commit to such a convention by May, so the world makes clear that freedom from sexual abuse at work is as fundamental as the right to a bathroom break, an eight-hour day or overtime pay.

The CARE poll found that across the eight countries, 32% of women who have ever worked say they have suffered sexual harassment or assault related to work, while the figure is 21% for men. And to put those figures in context, in countries such as Egypt and India, large shares of women may not even count coerced sex as sexual harassment. In Egypt, 38% of women say it’s either sometimes or always acceptable for an employer to ask/expect an employee to have intimate interactions with them, a family member or a friend. The figure is 21% among women in India. Other findings from the survey include:

  • In the UK, 35% of 25-34 year olds think it’s sometimes/always acceptable to pinch a colleague’s bottom in jest.
  • In India, one-third (33%) of all adults say it’s either sometimes or always acceptable to cat-call/wolf-whistle at a colleague.
  • Across all countries, including the U.S., there is a sizeable gap between what men and women find acceptable in the workplace. For example, 36% of U.S. men believe it’s sometimes acceptable (34%) or even always acceptable (2%) to tell a risqué or sexual joke to a colleague, while the figure is 20% for U.S. women.
  • The gender gap is often greatest among younger age groups. Of American men age 18-34, 13% say it is sometimes or even always acceptable for an employer to ask/expect an employee to have intimate relations with them, a friend or family member. The figure is just 1% for women in that age group. And in Ecuador, 21% of 18-24 year olds think it is sometimes or always acceptable to kiss a colleague at an office party without permission, compared with only 6% of those in the 45-54 age group.
  • Adults are split globally on whether it’s Ok to ask a subordinate on a date. Roughly half of adults (49%) in the eight countries surveyed sayit is either always acceptable (9%) to ask a subordinate on a date or sometimes acceptable (39%),  while the other half (51%) say it is never acceptable to invite a subordinate on a date.
  • Among global adults who are employed, 77% say their employer takes harassment seriously, while only 23% say their employer does not.

“We still have such a long way to go in stamping out sexual harassment and abuse globally,” Nunn said, “whether it’s inside office buildings in the U.S., factories in India or the often-overlooked workplaces of housekeepers and caretakers in Latin America.”

Survey Method: This survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CARE between January 19-31, 2018 among 9,408 global adults ages 18+ in  Australia (n=1,004), Ecuador (n=1,034), Egypt (n=1,116), India (n=1,029), South Africa (n=1,165), the United Kingdom (1,004), the United States (n=2,035) and Vietnam (n=1,021). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Nicole Harris at nharris@care.org or Brian Feagans at bfeagans@care.org.

About CARE: Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 93 countries and reached 63 million people around the world. Learn more at care.org.

Media Contacts: Nicole Harris, nharris@care.org, 404-735-0871; Brian Feagans, bfeagans@care.org; 404-457-4644

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