Sexual remarks are the most common

Loose-lipped wisecrackers beware: Keep crude comments out of the office because co-workers are listening.


One in three employees reported hearing sexually inappropriate remarks in the workplace last year, according to a recent survey.


Improper sexual comments were the most frequent type of ridicule reported, followed by ethnic and racial slurs and remarks based on age, sexual orientation and disability.


Men were twice as likely as women to hear workplace disparagement, says Tom McKinnon of Novations Group, the consultancy that conducted the telephone survey of 610 Americans.


People feel more comfortable making inappropriate remarks among their peers, such as men to other men, he said.

“It’s written off as boys will be boys,” McKinnon said. “It’s not about the intent of the comment, it’s about how it’s perceived by other folks.”

Those targeted, however, were less likely to hear such comments. Nearly 35 per cent of employees aged 18 to 34 overheard age-based comments, compared with only 11 per cent of workers over age 55.

Demeaning office chatter, no matter the intention, can harm productivity and employee well-being, McKinnon said.