Fawcett Society launch campaign to stamp out sexism in the workplace

New polling shows a majority of women would be uncomfortable working for an organisation that allows its employees to use lapdancing venues for entertaining clients

The Fawcett Society have launched a major new campaign, Sexism and the City , calling for tough action to stamp out sexism in UK workplaces. 

 The fawcett society believe that after nearly 40 years on from the outlawing of discrimination against women in the workplace, sexism remains rife:

  • Only 11% of FTSE 100 company directors are women
  • 30,000 women lose their jobs every year in the UK simply for being pregnant
  • Two thirds of low paid workers are women
  • Women working full-time are paid on average 17% less than men
  • 18% of sex discrimination compensation awards are for sexual harassment
  • The first UK lapdance club opened in 1995. There are now over 300 lapdance clubs in the UK

For the first time the Fawcett Society is joining the dots between women’s experiences in the workplace and a wider culture in which women are subject to sexist stereotypes and are increasingly sexually objectified.

Sexist workplaces

Fawcett is calling on the Government to extend the right to work flexibly to all so that flexible working is not seen as the “mummy track”, and ending the opt-out of the EU Work Time Directive in order to curb the destructive long working hours culture. 

Sexist attitudes

Women in the workplace experience worrying levels of direct sexual harassment, and visiting a lapdance club has become an increasingly normal way for companies to entertain clients. Yet polling carried out by Ipsos MORI and published today shows:

  • 60% of women would be very or fairly uncomfortable working for an organisation that allows its employees to use lapdancing venues for entertaining clients.
  • 52% of men and 59% of women believe it is not acceptable for businesses to use lapdance clubs as venues for entertaining clients (3).

 As a first step to challenging the objectification of women, Fawcett is calling for lapdance clubs to be licensed as Sex Encounter Establishments (as sex shops currently are) instead of the current Premises License (like ordinary pubs and clubs), enabling local authorities to place greater restrictions on the clubs.

Kate, a former City worker, said:

“Often client after-work meetings became visits to strip clubs, and I knew senior guys who had told HR they wanted a new junior team member and that she must be slim, blond and pretty.  Screensavers and pictures of semi-naked women were not uncommon around the office.  One guy refused to work with me because he said my breasts were off-putting, and management responded by asking me if I had done anything to provoke this, then moving the guy who complained to a separate desk.” 

Commenting on the campaign, Dr Katherine Rake, Director of the Fawcett Society, said:

"Women have the right to dignity and respect in their workplaces and in their daily llives. It is time for women and men to stand up against the sexist culture of objectifying women that has gripped our society.

The Sexism and the City campaign is calling upon Government, businesses and individual employees to take urgent action. Everyone pays the price for sexism, so everyone has a role to play in stamping it out.”

Sexism and the City was launched on Tuesday 1st April, at the London Development Agency. Speakers included Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell MP; Fleur Bothwick, Director of Diversity and Inclusiveness, Ernst & Young; and Dr Katherine Rake, Director of the Fawcett Society.


Article provided by The Fawcett Society

iThe Fawcett Society is the UK’s leading campaign for women’s rights www.fawcettsociety.org.uk


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