Sexual jokes at work ‘are acceptable to 1 in 3 UK men’

Almost three in ten British men think it is acceptable to tell jokes or stories of a sexual nature at work, a survey has found, making them more accepting of such behaviour than counterparts in countries including Turkey, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the US.

Almost three in ten British men think it is acceptable to tell jokes or stories of a sexual nature at work, the survey found.

By contrast, according to the poll to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday, only 16 per cent of women globally and in Britain say such jokes or stories are acceptable.

The proportion of men in Britain who hold this view is the same as the global average. The survey of more than 20,000 people in 27 countries was carried out by Ipsos Mori and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.

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It reveals attitudes towards workplaces that many would regard as toxic or at least not female-friendly, which have been shown to hold women back in their careers.

Kelly Beaver, managing director of Ipsos Mori Public Affairs, said: “International Women’s Day is a great reminder each year to think about where we are headed, and how far we have come, in the fight for gender equality. Our new research shows that we still have a way to go when it comes to levelling the playing field, especially in the workplace.

“Our data shows that people feel women’s careers are significantly more at risk then men’s if they turn down a romantic advance, if they talk about their family life or don’t take part in social activities with colleagues.

“However, there are some real positives coming through from the data, such as over half of men feeling confident to call people out if they make sexist comments.”

She added: “Equality won’t happen without both men and women making changes and in the world of work, which is still dominated by men, we need more men to start prioritising equality and making a stand when required.”

Of all the countries polled, men and women in Britain are least likely to say it is acceptable to continue to ask a colleague for a date when they’ve already said no. However, while people in Britain have fewer concerns about simply asking a colleague for a date for the first time, there is still a marked gender divide in opinion: nearly two in five women think asking a colleague for a date is acceptable, compared with half of all men.

Men are more likely than women to say they would be confident to tell off a senior colleague for making a sexist comment.


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