Many young female civil servants face sex harassment regularly

One in seven female public sector officials under 35 years of age have regularly experienced unwanted sexual behavior at work, according to the findings of new government research, which delved into the extent of discrimination within the public sector.

According to a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations and carried out by Statistics Netherlands, a further 9 percent of all public sector officials claimed to have experienced discrimination over the past year, which included discrimination on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, or religion.

According to the ministry's State Secretary Relations Raymond Knops, the survey has revealed the extent to which "undesirable manners" permeate the public sector workplace. 

"Having an open, safe culture in which employees understand each other and being able to hold an organization accountable for behavior is essential for good public board," wrote Knops in a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Khadija Arib on Friday.

According to the study, which surveyed some 40,000 public sector officials across the Netherlands, a majority of government employees (80 percent) believe their organization is doing enough to counteract unwanted behavior.

However, according to Knops's letter, the findings nonetheless provide justification for more attention to anti-discrimination efforts in the public sector workplace, especially those being championed by D66 MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, who tabled the motion to investigate sexual harassment in the first place back in 2018.

"It is important that continued attention is paid to integrity within the central government," wrote Knops, adding that firmer steps would be laid out by the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations in the coming weeks.