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Zero Tolerance finds sexism and misogyny the norm in Scottish workplace

A new report from Zero Tolerance on women’s experiences with violence and harassment in the workplace shows that there is still much work to be done when it comes to supporting women in Scottish workplaces. The research found that:

  • over 70% of respondents described experiencing or witnessing sexual innuendo or harassment at work.
  • over a third (37%) of respondents described having experienced gender based bullying or teasing and 42% of respondents reported experiencing double standards at work for men and women.
  • 73% of respondents were either unsure or not aware of a Violence Against Women (VAW) policy in their workplace and 31% reported feeling either ‘unsure’ about their employer or certain that they would not be supported.

With 1 in 3 women experiencing violence at some point in their lives, this survey aimed to delve deeper into the experiences of workers and employers in Scotland and find out what positive measures employers were taking to prevent sexism and misogynistic attitudes. Unfortunately, the report, which received over 600 responses from individuals from across the public, private sector and third sector, showed that many Scottish employees will still work in an environment where sexism and harassment are left unchecked.

The report also showed that those who held responsibility to implement good practice and support employees still have gaps in their knowledge around violence against women policy. Only 26% of those with managerial responsibilities reported confidence in taking the necessary next steps, with 17% either unsure or completely uncertain about what the next steps were.

Amy Marshall, Zero Tolerance’s Educators and Employers Development Officer said, "This research confirms what we already know; employers are still sometimes unable to pick up on the signs of abuse or appropriately assess the correct support mechanisms needed to challenge hostile attitudes to women.

The responses do show a clear appetite however for change in the Scottish workforce, both from employers and employees. If employers take up the mantle and make some changes to their workplace, we could make real strides in creating a more gender equal workforce.

Ultimately this will benefit the employers too; those who spend some time and energy promoting a healthy and supportive workplace will retain talented staff, avoid litigation and lead a more productive team."

The full report includes recommendations for the Scottish Government, public sector and private sector employers, including better support mechanisms for women experiencing violence and promotion of an anti-sexist workplace environment.

For more information about Zero Tolerance’s PACT programme please contact Amy Marshall on or 0131 556 7365.


  1. Zero Tolerance is a Scottish charity working to end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality and by challenging attitudes which normalise violence and abuse. Find out more about Zero Tolerance on our website:
  2. This report was written by Amy Marshall, Zero Tolerance’s Employers and Education Development Officer. You can find the report here:
  3. Zero Tolerance has developed the PACT programme for businesses in Scotland. The programme helps employers provide appropriate support to all staff, not only those experiencing abuse but also to managers and colleagues who may be affected by the issue. Find out more about the programme here:
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