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Workplaces Free from Bullying and Sexual Harassment are Good for Business

Yangon, Myanmar, March 19, 2019 — Businesses in Myanmar can improve their labor productivity by up to 14 percent if they addressed bullying and sexual harassment, reveals a report released today by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the DaNa Facility.
The report, Respectful Workplaces: Exploring the Costs of Bullying and Sexual Harassment to Businesses in Myanmar , contains the findings of a study which was conducted to determine the prevalence and cost of bullying and harassment in the agribusiness, finance, retail and tourism sectors.
Men and women are both experiencing bullying and harassment in the workplace. Bullying is more common than sexual harassment with 40 percent employees having experienced it, compared to 15 percent being sexually harassed. The most common types of bullying included being gossiped about, shouted at or sworn at by a supervisor, or being excluded from work-related activities. Body shaming, hearing someone tell a joke containing sexual content or inappropriate hugging featured amongst the most common forms of sexual harassment.
Faced with disrespectful workplaces, some employees took to social media to air their grievances, by-passing any formal grievance mechanisms where they existed. A large proportion of the employees who had experienced bullying or sexual harassment remained in their jobs, but were disengaged, performing below expected levels of productivity.
“While bullying and harassment exists in workplaces around the world, businesses in Myanmar now have a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership on the topic by developing policies and practices to effectively address disrespectful workplaces, and help boost productivity,” said Henriette Kolb, IFC’s Head of the Gender Secretariat. “Respectful workplaces are not only good for employees but also good for business.”
“Bullying and harassment take place everywhere, not just in the workplace. But in workplaces, there are hierarchies and power structures that can be exploited. Leaders and managers also set an example, if they accept or condone such behavior, it sends a signal that bad behavior is acceptable,” Paul Joicey, Director of Programmes, the DaNa Facility.
The findings of the report are being widely shared. Targeted presentations to the private sector will create awareness on the prevalence of bullying and sexual harassment at workplaces and help catalyze action to create more respectful workplaces in Myanmar businesses.
The report was produced with the support of partners including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, and the World Bank Group's Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE).
About IFC
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit
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About the DaNa Facility
The DaNa Facility is a UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded programme, established in May 2016 as one of three components of DFID’s wider “Business for Shared Prosperity” (BSP) programme. The DaNa Facility, implemented by DAI Europe and KPMG, supports inclusive economic growth and private sector development in Myanmar through responsible and sustainable business growth, investment and trade.
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About the Umbrella Fund for Gender Equality
The World Bank Group's Umbrella Facility for Gender Equality (UFGE) is a multi-donor trust fund expanding evidence, knowledge and data needed to identify and address key gaps between men and women to deliver better development solutions that boost prosperity and increase opportunity for all. The UFGE has received generous contributions from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.