PRCA launches plans for cross-industry working group to target sexual harassment following survey

The PRCA, in partnership with PRWeek and Women in PR, has revealed the extent of sexual harassment in the PR and communications industry in a new survey – and plans to launch a cross-industry working group to target the issue.

The survey revealed that 85% of respondents have experienced some form of sexual harassment, with 26% having experienced it in the past year. 15% reported that they had experienced an attempted or actual sexual assault.

Only 27% of those who had experienced harassment reported it. When questioned about whether their organisation had taken action about a complaint, only 14% said that action had been taken.

Matt Cartmell MPRCA, Deputy Director General, PRCA, said: “Employers are clearly not doing enough to take complaints of sexual harassment seriously and deal with them in an appropriate manner. There is a need for action, and this is the action that the PRCA, in partnership with Women in PR and PRWeek, will take. We will launch a cross-industry working group, drawing in representatives from across the industry, to help us to develop meaningful guidelines that will apply to every single practitioner in PR and communications.

“This is not a problem that can be swept under the carpet for any longer – we want to create real and lasting change.”

Bibi Hilton MPRCA, President, Women in PR, said: “We need employers to review policies and ensure there is a clear course of action for cases of sexual harassment: to train and empower men and women across their organisations in how to report and respond to cases, and to put in place clear codes of conduct for relationships between PROs, clients, journalists and influencers. Above all we need to drive real behaviour change. Failing to act is not acceptable.”

The survey gave respondents 11 options and asked them to identify which scenarios would constitute sexual harassment. The scenarios ranged from sharing sexually inappropriate images or videos, telling lewd jokes, making sexual comments about appearance, and attempted or actual sexual assault. Over 82% of respondents said that all scenarios would constitute acts of sexual harassment.

Around 76% of respondents had been told lewd jokes, while 52% of respondents received sexual comments about their appearance or clothing, and finally 45% of respondents had experienced sexually suggestive staring.

Several respondents said they were aware of their colleagues having been sexually harassed. Nearly 71% of respondents said their colleagues had been told lewd jokes; 56% said their colleagues had received sexual comments about their appearance; and 49% said their colleagues had been on the receiving end of sexually suggestive staring.

When questioned about who committed the behaviour, more than a third of respondents said this behaviour came from a senior person in the organisation who was not their line manager. In addition, nearly 24% of respondents said this behaviour came from a colleague who was not senior. Only 9% said this behaviour came from their line manager. Encouragingly, 63% of respondents said the behaviour in question had stopped.

Around 77% of the respondents were female. 57% of respondents worked at agencies, while 27% of respondents were in-house PR and communications employees.  

If you would like to join the PRCA, PRWeek, and Women in PR in the cross-industry working group, please contact


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