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FTSE 100 firms trailing behind peers on sexual harassment policies

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·3-min read
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Portrait of Businesswoman looking over architecture blueprints in office
Globally, over half of companies (51%) did not publish an anti-sexual harassment policy last year. But, this is an improvement from 2019, when 58% of companies did not publish. Photo: Getty

FTSE 100 (^FTSE) companies are lagging behind other major firms when it comes to sexual harassment policies, nearly four years after the #MeToo movement highlighted the extent of unwanted sexual advances in the workplace.

According to data from Equileap, just 49% of FTSE firms published an anti-sexual harassment policy in 2020, compared to 69% of S&P 500 companies and 60% of institutions of MSCI (MSCI) developed markets world index.

The disparity at major indices is crucial due to increasing amount that is invested. Globally there are more than $12trn (£8.7trn) invested in index funds, with trillions more measured against the FTSE 100, S&P 500 (GSPC) and MCSI DM.

Globally, over half of companies (51%) of companies did not publish an anti-sexual harassment policy last year. But, this is an improvement from 2019, when 58% of companies did not publish.

Companies in Spain (73%), France (63%), Italy (62%) and Canada (62%) emerged at the top of countries publishing such policies. 42% of firms in the UK published their anti-sexual policies last year.

Meanwhile, nations in Asia-Pacific fared poorly, with Japan coming in as the top performer in the region, with 51% of firms publishing a policy.

Graph: Equileap
Graph: Equileap

The figures from the company — which provides data on gender equality used by fund and index providers to construct so-called gender lens investment strategies — also showed that FTSE 100 firms were the best at reporting on the gender pay gap.

In 2020, 85% of FTSE firms published a report on the gender pay gap, compared to 18% at MSCI DM companies. Just 9% of S&P 500 organisations published such data last year.

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average salaries of all women and of all men in a company.

Women across the world are still paid 23% less than men. Equileap says that "at the current rate of change, there will be no equal pay until 2069."

Britain is in the top three leading countries that report on the gender pay gap along with Spain and Italy. Spain tops the list, with 82% of companies publishing gender-segregated pay information, 78% of companies in the UK publish, and in Italy, 55% of companies release such information.

READ MORE: UK COVID-19 response makes 'existing gender equality problem worse'

The report also suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problems mothers face juggling parenting duties and work schedules.

Apart from the temporary policies implemented in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the study found a lack of permanent, flexible working schemes at many companies.

It showed that less than four in 10 (38%) published a policy on flexible hours and just 24% offered one on location. 19% of firms publish a flexible work arrangements policy that includes both hours and locations for all employees.

Companies in Germany stood out for having the highest percentages of publishing policies for flexible work hours (87%) and locations (65%), the report showed.

The global workplace equality index shines a light on the obstacles women face at work, from major companies failing to ban sexual harassment at work or failing to implement policies that allow mothers to work flexible hours.

Equileap drew its data from 3,702 companies in 23 countries, including the UK, US, Japan, Germany and Australia,

The company provides data on gender equality used by fund and index providers to construct so-called gender lens investment strategies.

WATCH: Why do we still have a gender pay gap?

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