IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the DaNa Facility today launched the Myanmar-language version of their groundbreaking study, “Respectful Workplaces: Exploring the Costs of Bullying and Sexual Harassment to Businesses,” as part of moves to help employers deal with such behaviors in the workplace.
Launched at the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business and Colors Rainbow event, Working with Business to Promote LGBTI Equality in Myanmar, the report lays out practical examples of how to address and prevent bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Bullying and harassment take place everywhere, not just in the workplace,” said Paul Joicey, Director of Programmes at the DaNa Facility. “But in workplaces, there are hierarchies and power structures that can be exploited. Leaders and managers also set an example, if they accept or condone such behavior, it sends a signal that bad behavior is acceptable. “
The report estimated Myanmar businesses could be losing up to 14 percent labor productivity due to bullying and sexual harassment of both men and women at work. Forty percent of the surveyed employees said they had experienced bullying, while 15 percent reported being sexually harassed.
“Companies in Myanmar have a great opportunity to show leadership by creating respectful workplaces,” said Ellen Maynes, IFC’s Gender Lead for Myanmar. “Our experience shows that workplaces free from bullying and sexual harassment increase their productivity and profitability in the long term.”
The report found that very few businesses in Myanmar have formal policies or procedures to help prevent and respond to workplace bullying and sexual harassment.
The Myanmar-language version of the report provides opportunities for employees, companies, and government agencies to understand how best to prevent and address such disrespectful practices.
“This month we launched our policy and training program on respectful workplaces,” said Han Thein Lwin, CEO of Shwe Taung Engineering and Construction. “It is not enough to be a CEO in Myanmar and say you support respectful workplaces. You must also have a policy, an effective grievance mechanism, and training in place. The Myanmar-language report makes it easier for Myanmar companies to do so.”
The report found the most common types of bullying included being gossiped about, shouted at or sworn at by a supervisor, and being excluded from work-related activities. Body shaming, hearing someone tell a joke containing sexual content, and inappropriate hugging featured among the most common forms of sexual harassment. Faced with disrespectful workplaces, some employees took to social media to air their grievances. A large proportion of the employees that had experienced bullying or sexual harassment remained in their jobs but were disengaged and performing below expected levels of productivity.
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