Research perspectives

Women more likely to suffer from workplace “banter”

An Institute of Leadership & Management survey has found that women are twice as likely as men to lose confidence at work because of the negative banter they experience. One in 10 (10%) women said banter had a negative effect on their mental health, compared to just 3% of men.

The survey also revealed that those at the midway point in their careers (31- to 40-year-olds) are most affected by banter. This age group reported loss in confidence, compromised performance, and poor mental health due to experiencing negative banter. They also avoided work situations and skipped work social events as a result.

However, nearly two-thirds of men (65%) surveyed said they were more likely to initiate banter when they were the subject of the joke. They were also more likely than women to directly challenge the behaviour (73% compared to 55% of women) if they felt it crossed the line.

Age was found to be an important factor, with 70% of staff above the age of 60 or those in more senior positions (79%) more likely to challenge or report inappropriate banter.

The report also explored the topics of banter, with age rated as the most common topic for 71% of respondents. There were a number of areas also considered out of bounds – with the most inappropriate cited as medical issues and mental health (68%).