Weinstein scandal fails to prompt radical overhaul of harassment and sexual misconduct policies

The fallout from the highly-publicised sexual harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein have failed to lead to a sweeping overhaul of harassment and sexual misconduct policies in the UK as organisations consider current policies to be adequate, our poll in conjunction with the ICSA: The Governance Institute finds.

Less than a fifth (13%) of the organisations polled are reviewing their harassment and sexual misconduct policies and almost four-fifths (71%) are not. A further 15% of company secretaries polled were unclear.

Summarising the findings, Peter Swabey, Policy and Research Director at ICSA: The Governance Institute says:

‘In one respect it is extremely positive that so few respondents indicated that changes would be made to deal with harassment and sexual misconduct. This seems to point to a high level of confidence in existing codes of conduct, Dignity at Work and grievance policies, whistleblowing policies and disciplinary procedures. That said, the 15% that do not know, should endeavour to find out.’

‘As we saw in our recent survey of FTSE 350 company secretaries for our Winter 2017 FT-ICSA Boardroom Bellwether report, 52% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied that their board felt current policies and guidelines on sexual harassment in the workplace were fit for purpose, but 33% of respondents to that survey did not know. Given the level of reputational risk that has been highlighted, if the matter has not yet been discussed at board level, it probably should be.’


As a recruiter, it is extremely important that the people who we are seeking to place have confidence that the organisations they will be joining can offer them a safe and secure environment in which to work. In light of the infamous President’s Club and the like, policy needs to be aligned with real workplace culture. Therefore, it’s not enough just to have policies in place; all employees must feel confident and safe in coming forward when there are incidents of harassment or sexual misconduct.


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