On this International Women’s Day, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate (such as a recharged conversation on women’s rights in Hollywood—thanks #MeToo!). But there are also plenty of causes for concern.
Consider the following stats: Nearly a quarter of men across eight countries—an aggregate that includes the U.S.—think it’s acceptable for an employer to expect an employee to have sex with them, according to a new poll commissioned by the non-profit CARE. That’s just one of several mind-boggling findings from the recent survey, published today in honor of IWD and part of a new campaign from the Atlanta-based humanitarian organization (get ready for yet another hashtag: #ThisIsNotWorking).
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Other disturbing stats include the following: In Ecuador, 21% of 18- to 24-year-olds think it is okay to kiss a colleague at an office party without permission, and in the U.K., 35% of 25- 34-year-olds think it’s acceptable to pinch a colleague’s bottom in jest. (Yes, really.) The takeaway? Sexual harassment is a global epidemic that is just starting to come to light. Especially in industries and parts of the world where laws and attitudes have yet to change, there’s a long road ahead.
“If we now know how difficult it is on the producers’ chair in L.A., imagine how difficult it is someplace like Bangladesh on the factory floor,” Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE, tells Fortune.
According to Nunn, sexual harassment in the workplace isn’t yet illegal in about one-third of the countries in the world. That’s why CARE is calling on the International Labour Organization (ILO) to create new global regulations around “freedom from violence in the workplace.” The non-profit is asking supporters of the cause to sign a petition to push the ILO and other parties to do this.
Nunn says the private sector has a big role to play in the effort for more universal, basic laws against harassment, both internally within their own workforces and throughout their supply chains. Freedom from sexual abuse, according to a press release from CARE, is as fundamental as the right to “a bathroom break, an eight-hour day or overtime pay.”
The new survey, conducted by Harris Poll, includes data from 9,408 adults in Australia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, South Africa, the U.S., U.K. and Vietnam. A CARE spokesperson said these eight countries were chosen as a global sample because they “cut across geography and development levels.
While most of the findings were on the dismal side, there were some data points that should instill hope: About 65% of women surveyed say they believe the #MeToo movement will have a positive impact in their countries. And in every geography polled except for Egypt, more than half of adults say recent sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood will result in improved workplace behavior in other industries.