One fifth of Holyrood workers experience sexual harassment

The Scottish Parliament building
The Scottish Parliament building
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Hundreds of workers at the Scottish Parliament say they have suffered sexual harassment, a confidential survey of staff has found.

Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh today apologised and pledged to take action over the findings.

Men are generally the perpetrators of "inappropriate behaviour" and tend to be in a position of authority over those experiencing it.

The Parliament has published the results of a confidential survey which assessed the extent of the problem, including sexist behaviour, which was undertaken following media reports of incidents towards the end of last year.

Read more: Sexual harassment claim at Scottish Parliament
Over 1000 people including MSPs, their staff and Scottish Parliament staff. took part in the survey.

While the majority of respondents (78%) have never experienced sexual harassment or sexist behaviour, a fifth (20%) have experienced such behaviour while working at the Parliament.

The survey found 30% of women and 6% of men reported experiencing this behaviour in some form.

Mr Macintosh said: "I am sorry that people have experienced this type of behaviour while working here. I am determined to address this.

Read more: Sexual harassment survey sent to all Holyrood staff
“The Party Leaders and SPCB members have seen the results and all accept the report findings in full. All have reiterated their strong commitment to tackling these issues and to ensuring a zero tolerance approach is not simply a policy statement but is a daily reality for those who work here.

“With that in mind, the Joint Working Group which was set up earlier this year has been considering the findings and has already started to identity the key strands of work it will take forward to address the issues raised by the report.

“Sadly, these issues are not unique to the Scottish Parliament. As an institution that reflects Scotland, Holyrood will inevitably reflect the inequality that exists in Scottish society. However, as the nation’s legislature, it is our duty to take a moral and political lead in tackling sexist behaviour and harassment.”

Victims had a lack of confidence in the reporting systems, the report indicates.

Treatment was also the same among MSPs, their staff and Parliament staff, the survey found.

Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale , a member of the Parliaments’ Corporate Body added: “While these results are concerning, they are by no means surprising. We have known for many years that sexual harassment and sexist behaviour is present throughout our society. This survey confirms that Holyrood is not immune to the problem.

“I welcome the leadership shown by the Parliament in commissioning an independent survey and publishing the results in full. The key question now is how we tackle the issues it has uncovered. The Joint Working Group has already begun this task and, as a member of the Parliament’s Corporate Body, I’m committed to supporting their work and ensuring that the necessary steps are taken."