CONTINUED HARASSMENT OF WOMEN IN RETAIL

A major report just published by Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS) highlights significant issues in addressing sexual harassment in the retail industry. Key findings include the widespread nature of the problem, with nearly half of women, and one in four men working in retail, experiencing sexual harassment, including suggestive comments, intrusive questions, and leering.

Industry norms such as ‘the customer is always right’, working alone, selling sexualised products, and mandatory makeup or revealing uniforms exacerbate the problem.

HR personnel and OHS managers lack the resources to address harassment effectively, limiting their ability to take meaningful action with divided ownership resulting in a different response to employee-perpetrated (HR issue) and customer-perpetrated (OHS concern) harassment within companies.

The study also identifies lack of comprehensive data collection as hampering understanding and the development of targeted solutions.

ANROWS’ report recommends better resource allocation, support for HR and OHS managers, and senior leadership engagement to address harassment more effectively. Young and inexperienced workers, especially young women, are the worst effected in the sector.

The report's broader implications suggest sexual harassment in retail is normalised, reflecting broader societal issues that enable violence against women. The study calls for a systemic change in retail workplace practices to protect workers and create safer retail working environments.

SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer says there's currently ‘significant variation in employer policies and the quantity, frequency, and types of sexual harassment training provided. Solving this requires an industry-based approach with union engagement.’

The report calls for retailers to establish a joint committee with the SDA to address ‘routine and unavoidable’ sexual harassment in the sector.

Access ANROWS’ ‘Just Another Day in Retail’ report here. 

Review the Young Workers Centre campaign to end to sexual harassment at Honey Birdette here, and ACTU coverage of the issue here. 

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