Close to 3 in 10 men say sexual jokes or stories at work are acceptable
Nearly three in ten men (28%) around the world think it's acceptable to tell jokes or stories of a sexual nature at work, according to a new global survey to mark International Women's Day on 8 March 2020.
The proportion of (online) men in South Africa who hold this view is below the global average. South African men are much less accepting of such behaviour – only 19% (or two in every ten) believe that its ok to tell sexual jokes at work - than their counterparts in countries including Japan, Great Britain, Germany and more.
11% of women in South Africa say such jokes or stories are acceptable and this is also lower than the global average of 16%.
The survey of over 20,000 people in 27 countries was carried out by Ipsos MORI in the UK and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London. The study is conducted online and therefore only includes views of “connected” South Africans, which means that most are likely to be active in the workplace.
The survey reveals attitudes towards workplaces that many would regard as toxic or at the very least not female-friendly, which have been shown to hold women back in their careers.
It also finds significant differences in what women and men see as acceptable workplace behaviour, reveals where sexism is most likely to be challenged, and looks at whose careers are most likely to be affected by certain choices and responsibilities.
Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister and Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, said: “The workplace is one of the most important battlegrounds in the fight for equality between women and men, and these findings show we still have some way to go. 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. If employers want to pay more than just lip service to gender equality, they need to invest in creating cultures that value diversity and inspire respect for all.”
What is acceptable at work?
Displaying sexual material
As one can see from the chart above, the opinions of online South Africans are above the global averages in terms of being willing to act against those that are behaving inappropriately.
People in South Africa think women’s careers are much more likely to be damaged than those of men because of certain choices or responsibilities.
Globally, people predict less of a gender divide in the way such choices or responsibilities might harm a woman’s or a man’s career. However, for some issues, there remains a split:
“As South Africans, albeit only those with access to the internet, we can be proud to be at the bottom of the rankings in terms of tolerating inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and being at the top of the rankings when it comes to calling this behaviour out. Being an online survey, we can be confident that those participating are likely to be those who are active participants in the workplace itself and so the results are very positive from this point of view.
"It would be extremely interesting to test these attitudes and others about gender equality in the wider South African context, as our country is plagued by very high levels of Gender Based Violence.
"What is still concerning though is that we are above the global average in thinking that certain behaviours are career limiting for women more so than for men. Equality won’t happen until these beliefs are challenged and changed.”
These are the findings of a survey conducted in 27 countries via Global Advisor, the online survey platform of Ipsos, between 24 January - 7 February 2020.
For this survey, Ipsos interviewed a total of 20,204 adults aged:
Online surveys can be taken as representative of the general working-age population in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Online samples in other countries surveyed are more urban, more educated and/or more affluent than the general population and the results should be viewed as reflecting the views of a more “connected” population.
Sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The precision of online surveys conducted on Global Advisor is measured using a Bayesian Credibility Interval. Here, the poll has a credibility interval of +/-3.5 percentage points for countries where the sample is 1,000+ and +/- 4.8 points for countries where the sample is 500+. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please go to https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/2017-03/IpsosPA_CredibilityIntervals.pdf.
Senior Client Officer
Ipsos South Africa
Service Line Manager, Public Affairs