Closing The Gap

More than a quarter of men think sexual jokes are acceptable at work, survey finds

Nearly half of men in Belgium and China were found to be comfortable with crude humor in the workplace.
Luis Alvarez/Getty

Some 28% of men globally think it's acceptable to tell jokes or stories of a sexual nature in the office, an international survey has found. 

This figure rose to nearly half of men in Belgium and China, which were found to be the countries where people were the most comfortable with crude humor in the workplace.  

Just 16% of women around the world, on the other hand, were comfortable with these types of jokes in the office.  

The findings come from a survey of more than 20,000 people across 27 countries, carried out by global market researcher Ipsos Mori and the Global Institute for Women's Leadership at King's College London.  

'Some way to go' 

The global questionnaire also discovered that more than one in six (15%) men around the world thought it acceptable to continue to ask a co-worker out for a date — even after they had said no. In contrast, only 9% of women thought this was ok. 

The way people viewed women and men faced with the same workplace situations was also shown to be starkly different. 

For example, just over a quarter of people thought that rejecting a colleague who wanted a date or romantic relationship could damage a woman's career; meanwhile, only 7% thought this would harm a man's career.  

An even bigger number (35%) of people thought that having childcare responsibilities during the working day could hurt a woman's career, but just 8% believed it would be professionally damaging for a man.  

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is also chair of the Global Institute for Women's Leadership, said the workplace was one of the "most important battlegrounds in the fight for equality between women and men" and that that findings showed there was still "some way to go" toward this goal.  

"While those who help fuel toxic work environments are in the minority, it's nonetheless a significant one – and their views can make people's working lives a misery," she said. 

Gillard added that if employers wanted to pay more than just "lip service" to gender equality, they needed to invest in creating cultures that "value diversity and inspire respect for all."

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