The latest thinking, news and events from the world of Recruitment

Top Industries Where Workers Are Most Likely To Receive Unwanted Sexual Attention


New research has uncovered a worrying trend that as many as four fifths of Britons have experience unwanted sexual attention in the workplace, largely from customers and passers-by but also from their colleagues and those in management roles. According to the poll, catering & hospitality, retail and construction workers are the most likely to receive these advances.

It’s been revealed that those working in catering & hospitality, retail and construction are more likely to experience unwanted sexual attention than any other industry, ranging from suggestive looks, to inappropriate comments and even inappropriate emails or messages.

The team at conducted the research as part of an ongoing study into Britons’ experiences in the workplace. For the purposes of the study, 2,365 Britons aged 18 and over, all of whom stated that they were in full-time employment, were quizzed on their experiences in the workplace, with a particular focus on unwanted attention.

Initially all respondents were asked ‘Have you ever received any unwanted sexual attention in the workplace?’ to which almost four fifths of respondents (79%) confessed that ‘yes’ they have. When asked to state who the unwanted attention had been from, the majority confessed it was ‘customers and passers-by’ (78%), whilst others experienced it from ‘colleagues’ (15%) and ‘management (7%).

In a bid to determine which industries this was most prevalent in, all those who had experienced attention of this sort were asked to state what sector they worked in at the time of receiving the attention. Once all responses were collected, the top industries were revealed as:

  1. Catering and hospitality – 14%
  2. Retail – 13%
  3. Construction – 12%
  4. Entertainment – 12%
  5. Energy and utilities – 10%
  6. Law enforcement – 8%
  7. Teaching – 6%
  8. Marketing – 5%
  9. Healthcare – 4%
  10. Finance – 3%

Furthermore, when asked what kind of unwanted sexual attention they had received, ‘suggestive looks’ (31%), ‘inappropriate comments’ (25%) and ‘inappropriate emails/messages’ (13%) were cited as the most common ways that people overstepped the mark with them whilst at work.

When asked how they dealt with the situation, the majority chose to ‘ignore it and carry on’ (68%), whilst just one fifth chose to ‘file a complaint’ (19%). Just 5% confessed that they ‘confronted’ the individual over the matter directly.

George Charles, spokesperson for, commented:

“Getting unwanted attention of any kind, sexual or not, can make people feel very uncomfortable. For many, they know how they’d react outside of the workplace, but in the workplace they’re worried about causing a scene or losing their job. We’d advise anyone to report the comments to their boss, or someone in a management position. We spend so much of our lives at work, we have a right to feel safe.”