Workplace violence, harassment cost Lankan companies millions: IFC survey | Sri Lanka News

  • The nine companies surveyed lost at least US$ 1.7mn per year due to workplace violence and harassment
  •  Employees with a disability more likely to experience all forms of workplace violence
  • Sexual harassment and online violence tended to be underreported forms of workplace violence
  • Says Sri Lankan businesses cannot ignore workplace harassment given the current economic context

 Workplace violence and harassment have resulted in Sri Lankan companies to lose productive working hours per employee in addition to being financially taxed, a survey by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) revealed.
The study titled ‘Business Case for Creating Respectful Workplaces in Sri Lanka’ found that the impacts of workplace violence and harassment have led to the loss of six working days per employee every year, costing the nine Sri Lankan companies surveyed at least US$ 1.7 million.

Three out of every five people surveyed experienced some form of workplace violence or harassment, while nearly one out of five people felt unsafe at work.

 According to the survey carried out under the Women in Work, a partnership between the IFC and the Australian Government, employees of the nine companies surveyed across genders and age groups reported they were impacted by bullying, sexual harassment, or online violence. 

Employees with a disability were more likely to experience all forms of workplace violence. The study found that sexual harassment and online violence tended to be underreported forms of workplace violence.

“Workplace violence and harassment is universal, affecting all countries, occupations, and work arrangements. For businesses to successfully deliver their missions and goals, inclusive workplace culture is a must,” said Victor Antonypillai, Acting Country Manager for IFC in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

 The report cautioned that given the present economic context, Sri Lankan businesses cannot ignore workplace harassment. 

“We hope that the recommendations from the report will promote Sri Lankan companies to create safe and respectful workplaces,” Antonypillai said. The report asserted the need for Sri Lankan businesses to adopt policies and implement good practices to proactively address workplace violence and harassment. It further emphasises the importance of managing risks of online violence—an emerging workplace issue—as well as encouraging staff to use available support in the community. It also recommends steps to improve workplace diversity and inclusion.

Over 1,600 employees from nine Sri Lankan companies representing different industries, including manufacturing, banking and finance, fast-moving consumer goods, and tourism, were surveyed for the report. Extensive discussions were also held with business stakeholders, trade unions, employee rights activists, and the Sri Lanka police.

The findings have been used to develop tools and resources to help companies prevent and address violence and harassment in workplaces. The report also reiterates the importance of employers’ measures to tackle these issues, including implementing measures that are consistent with International Labour Organization Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment.


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