A new study has found that “violence and harassment” in the workplace is rife in Nigeria, with 29.5 percent of people having experienced it in their working lifetime – above the global average of 20.9 percent.

Also, 69.1 percent of Nigerians who have experienced workplace violence and harassment say this has happened three or more times, the study found.

The new report, “Safe at Work? Global experiences of violence and harassment”, based on Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s World Risk Poll, powered by Gallup, suggests that men are fractionally more likely to report having experienced violence and harassment at work at a global level (22 percent vs 20 percent of women). However, the most vulnerable sub-groups, as identified by the report, are mostly comprised of women.

When compared against global averages, there were differences in the experiences of those who work in Nigeria. For example, globally, at 29 percent, women with a tertiary education were found to be one of the groups most likely to report experiencing violence and harassment at work. In Nigeria, this figure was considerably lower at 12.4 percent. However, when looking at the experiences of those with primary education, those in Nigeria (21.8 percent) are more likely to report experiencing workplace violence and harassment when compared to the global average of 15 percent. These results highlight a large gap between education levels and experiences of workplace violence and harassment in Nigeria.

Globally, those already affected by discrimination outside of work – for instance gender, ethnicity or disability-based – are twice as likely to experience violence and harassment in the workplace (39 percent compared to 16 percent). In Nigeria, 88.8 percent of those who had experienced discrimination on the basis of nationality or ethnic group had faced a form of violence and harassment.

“While many are aware of violence and harassment in the workplace, the country-specific figures, provided by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, are especially valuable to showcase just how widespread it can be in any given location – and who’s most at risk,” said Suzanne Maybud, an international consultant on gender equality and women’s advancement in the workplace.

“While certain groups, including university-educated women, showed higher rates of violence and harassment in the workplace, it’s important to remember other vulnerable groups may not feel as empowered to report it, meaning the actual figures could be even higher,” Maybud said.

“There’s almost always a pattern to it. That’s why an inclusive, zero-tolerance approach to labour laws must be taken by policymakers. This will enable those suffering from violence or harassment in the workplace to feel comfortable enough to report it – with the knowledge that there will be real consequences for the perpetuators. By taking a strong stance, lawmakers have a real opportunity to engineer cultural change that can then trickle down to the company level and protect all workers,” she said.

Dr Sarah Cumbers, Director of Evidence and Insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said the World Risk Poll provides the first global and comparable measure of violence and harassment in the workplace, information which is critical to support serious and targeted action to tackle the issue in countries around the world.

“While some of the countries and groups that report the highest levels of experience may at first glance be surprising, this granular data helps us to understand both where interventions are needed to address a recognised problem, and where further work may be required to raise awareness and encourage greater reporting,” Cumbers said.

The global report polled 125,000 people across 121 countries about their experiences of workplace violence and harassment. All those interviewed were given a comprehensive definition of ‘violence and harassment’.