Is the Third Sector Sexist? Author: GUEST POST     
Date: 13th March 2018

Since allegations of sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein hit the headlines in October 2017 and kickstarted the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, we’ve seen sector after sector forced to have a reckoning with its own sexism. From Hollywood to Parliament to universities, revelations about sexism and sexual harassment have dominated the news cycles.

And then it was the third sector’s turn.

The Presidents Charity Club was dissolved after events at their men’s only gala came to light, and the UNICEF deputy resigned after allegations of inappropriate behaviour were revealed. The news of exploitation of sex workers by Oxfam workers in Haiti has got us thinking about how organisations respond to these kind of allegations.

This is why 7 Charityworks trainees came together to form “Is the third sector sexist?” and launch a research project on this topic. We formed this collective out of frustration and anger, yes, but also out of love and respect for a sector we care deeply about. Through the results from our survey, we want to gift a robust set of evidence to the sector, and to the people who give so much to it as staff members and volunteers.

As one of our respondents said, these things aren’t new. “They’ve been happening for years, we’ve been talking about them for years, and we’ve been being ignored for years. But hopefully this will change soon.”

We want to help push this change. It’s not enough to say we know that these things are going on. Our survey not only asks about experiences of sexism and sexual harassment in the sector, but also how organisations are responding to it. We want to gather best practise so that we can celebrate what the sector is doing well and encourage others to do more of it.

So this week, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’d like to share some preliminary results. From a sample of 280 people:

49% of respondents had personally experienced sexism in the third sector 
24% of respondents had personally experienced sexual harassment in the third sector
70% of women surveyed had personally experienced sexism in the sector
50% of people surveyed did not feel that their (third sector) organisations were well equipped to deal with allegations of sexism and sexual harassment.

But that means that a good number do feel that their organisations are equipped, stating that well equipped organisations have: “strong procedures and policies,” “processes in place” and “robust HR”, as well as keeping “equality at the heart of [the organisation’s] mission”.

These are only preliminary statistics, however, and we have now reached over 400 participants and hope to grow much further before we pull together our final report. And so, 100 years on from the UK’s first women gaining the vote, we’d like to leave you with 3 requests:

1. Complete our survey –
2. Share our survey within your organisations and broader networks
3. Follow us on Twitter @Is3rdSectSexist

Thank you!

“Is the Third Sector Sexist” Team is made up of Annie Gainsborough, Clare Saltiel, Eleanor Covell, Hannah Kunzlik, Holly Smith, Kirsten Greenaway, Polly O’Callaghan.

Please note that this blog was originally released on International Women’s Day 2018.


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