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Michaela Jefferson 

Adland fears rise in sexual harassment post-Covid, reveals timeTo

Adland fears rise in sexual harassment post-Covid, reveals timeTo

New research into sexual harassment levels in advertising has revealed concern among its employees that the number of incidents will once again rise as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic begin to ease.

Conducted by industry think tank Credos and published by timeTo, the study of 1250 respondents across the UK found 49% believe sexual harassment will be more of a problem as businesses return to the office next year, compared to their experience during lockdown.

Respondents expressed concern that home working will have created "dangerous knowledge gaps" around sexual harassment, timeTo claims, with respondents worried that the boundaries of appropriate behaviour may have been forgotten.

Additional concerns include "pent-up" emotions leading to an increase in inappropriate behaviour once restrictions are lifted, and fears that fewer people in offices could make individuals more vulnerable.

According to the research, nearly a third of respondents were still unsure of the strength of their employers' stance against sexual harassment in the workplace, despite the visibility of the #metoo movement over the past three years.

As a result, the timeTo team has refreshed its Code of Conduct and training programme to meet the new demands of a hybrid work environment and ensure office life avoids returning to the "old normal" in 2021.

“Just because the people who perpetrate sexual harassment have been away for a while, doesn’t mean the problem has gone away," said Helen Calcraft, founder of Lucky Generals and timeTo Steering Group member.

"This research shows that a lot of people in our industry are scared to come back to the office, and this is wrong. It also shows they want this issue tackled."

Calcraft added that the updated training programme is relevant for all seniority levels and is now shorter in length. Taster sessions are to be made available for senior leaders of timeTo endorsing companies from January.

"We strongly encourage managers and senior leaders to attend and help us bring the change that is needed in our new working environments," Calcraft said.

timeTo is a collaboration between the Advertising Association, NABS and WACL, backed by ISBA and the IPA, which aims to address the problem of sexual harassment in the UK advertising and marketing industry.

Stephen Woodford, chief executive at the Advertising Association, said: “2020 has been a tumultuous year and we are determined that we make good on our collective ambition to build back better. This has to include a renewed approach to ensure our workplaces are ones that are safe and can be enjoyed by all, without any fear of sexual harassment.

"I urge all companies to conduct the refreshed training and ensure the new code of conduct is seen and understood by all.”


Those interested in the timeTo training programme and taster sessions should contact timetotraining@nabs.org.uk.

Any company wishing to support timeTo should sign-up via the timeTo website.

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