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Tackling toxic workplaces

Read the research

To mark International Women's Day 2020, we carried out a global survey with Ipsos MORI to explore attitudes towards workplaces that many would regard as toxic or at the very least not female-friendly, which have been shown to hold women back in their careers.

The survey finds significant differences in what women and men see as acceptable workplace behaviour, reveals where sexism is most likely to be challenged, and looks at whose careers are most likely to be affected by certain choices and responsibilities.

Key findings include:

  • More than one in four men (28%) around the world think it’s acceptable to tell jokes or stories of a sexual nature at work. By contrast, only 16% of women globally and in Britain say such jokes or stories are acceptable.
  • More than one in eight men (13%) think it’s acceptable to display material of a sexual nature at work, almost double the proportion of women (7%) who think the same.
  • People in Malaysia (29%) and India (26%) are most likely to think it's acceptable to ask a colleague for a date when they've already said no, while China has the biggest gender divide in opinion, with 30% of men saying this is OK compared with 15% of women.
  • Globally, men (58%) are more likely than women (48%) to say they would be confident to tell off a senior colleague for making a sexist comment. But 69% of both genders say they would be comfortable in telling off a junior colleague for such a comment.