Employment & Labour Law

Harassment-Free Workplaces make Good Business Sense

Date: 02 April 2019; Type: Industry Updates; Source: Myanmar Times

Companies and employers in Myanmar can improve their labour productivity by up to 14 percent if they addressed bullying and sexual harassment, according to a latest study.

The report, Respectful Workplaces: Exploring the Costs of Bullying and Sexual Harassment to Businesses in Myanmar, revealed the findings of a study which was conducted to determine the prevalence and cost of bullying and harassment in the agribusiness, finance, retail and tourism sectors.

The publication was released by International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s investment arm, and DaNa Facility, which is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development.

Both genders are experiencing bullying and harassment in the workplace. 40pc employees surveyed experienced bullying, compared to 15pc being sexually harassed. The most common types of bullying included being gossiped about, shouted at or sworn at by a supervisor, or being excluded from work-related activities. The most common forms of sexual harassment include body shaming, hearing someone tell a joke containing sexual content or inappropriate hugging.

Paul Joicey, the DaNa Facility’s programmes director, said leaders and managers set an example in a professional environment, if they accept or condone bullying and harassment, it sends a signal that bad behaviour is acceptable. The risk for workplaces is that there are hierarchies and power structures that can be exploited.

“While bullying and harassment exists in workplaces around the world, businesses in Myanmar now have a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership on the topic by developing policies and practices to effectively address disrespectful workplaces, and help boost productivity,” Henriette Kolb, IFC’s head of the gender secretariat, commented. “Respectful workplaces are not only good for employees but also good for business.”

Faced with these bad behaviours, some employees took to social media to air their grievances, bypassing any formal grievance mechanisms where they existed. A large proportion of the employees who had experienced bullying or sexual harassment remained in their jobs, but were disengaged, performing below expected levels of productivity.

The IFC said in the press release that targeted presentations to the private sector will create awareness on the prevalence of bullying and sexual harassment at workplaces.

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