SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORK PLACE
The purpose of this research paper is to investigate the current status of sexual harassment in the workplace today. This takes a view of the sexual harassment in organizations today and provides current knowledge on the subject. Laws protect employees in a workplace by constituting sexual harassment as unlawful. This is a critical human resource and overall managerial issue which is widely discussed in many organizations due to the overwhelming liabilities that they hold. Sexual harassment trainings have been shown to be one way that companies attempt to diminish incidents, by giving employees information on the topic. There are many implications held for people that are involved in sexual harassment in the workplace. This paper was accomplished by examining various governmental sources, as well as print publications. The research will provide an in depth view into sexual harassment, and its role in today’s work environment. This will provide proper reasoning as to why it is important for managers to take this matter seriously, as well as recommendations as to how an organization’s managers should approach the subject
The year is 2013 and you would think by now, harassment of any kind in the workplace would be extinct. But I guess as a civilization, we have not come as far as we may think we have. Before we can think about whether or not we’ve ever experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s important to become familiar with different definitions of sexual harassment and the fact that it comes in different forms. But what does that mean exactly? Sexual Harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favors or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. (Equal Rights Advocates, (2012). At the workplace, this is often expressed through processes such as Collective Bargaining and the general ability of workers to express themselves or be heard as members of trade unions. One area that remains a major concern at the work place is the fact that women workers do not enjoy freedom over their bodies. Although there are men who often feel sexually harassed, it is women who tend to be most affected through actions that encompass: unwelcome sexual advances, demands for sexual favors and suggestive verbal or physical conduct where submission to, or rejection of, such advances affect the individual’s employment status.
These actions of affront to the woman’s body and sexuality are often referred to as sexual harassment. They are broadly words or actions which are sexual in nature and which, inevitably, preclude someone from carrying out his or her work to the best of his or her ability. While workers and employers know sexual harassment is inappropriate and unacceptable, it is extremely uncommon as a subject of litigation at the industrial court and does not feature during Collective Bargain negotiations. And, indeed, while sexual harassment is a problem that is universally faced by workers all over the world, women in lower rungs of work have to endure it more often. Worse still, at the work place, actions and remarks which demean and violate women have been normalized. These include verbal forms of sexual harassment through inappropriate jokes, sexual remarks and sexual teasing and touching. Causes
Sexual harassment in the work place can happen for a number of reasons. Research shows that some people are triggered by provocative clothing or certain behavior by the victim, but there is no specific cause for sexual harassment. It can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any given time. It leaves victims wondering “why me?” with no real answer to that question.
The Faces of Sexual Harassment
The two most commonly recognized types of sexual harassment are what we call quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment is, essentially, when someone at your job tells you that they will fire you or inflict other negative consequences on you (such as holding back salary increases, promotions, shift, or work assignments) if you will not have sex with them or perform a sexual favor for them. The Latin, of course, translates to: This for that. Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment, on the other hand, is the creation of an antagonistic environment, expressed in sexual terms. This might include statements of a sexual nature expressed by coworkers and/or supervisors, comments made about your appearance, staring in a suggestive manner, inappropriate touching, or even the presentation of pornography in the workplace. It’s any form of sexually inappropriate behavior that makes being at work feel uncomfortable.
Types of sexual harassment are;
Verbal or Written
This type includes comments about attire, personality, or physical appearance; sexual jokes; requesting sexual favors; constantly asking someone out; sexual insinuation; starting rumors about personal aspects or sexuality; threatening a person with sexual advances.
Sexual advances of the physical nature include assault; obstructing movement; improper and unwanted touching; kissing; hugging; patting; stroking
Sexual cues that are nonverbal include staring at someone’s body parts; hand gestures or facial expressions that are sexual; following a person or stalking.
This type includes sexually explicit drawings, pictures, posters, emails, and any other images that depict unwanted sexual fixations.
There is harassment that is not in a sexual manner, but is considered sexual harassment. This includes discrimination based on gender. Females or males can be sexually discriminated on purely because of their gender in the workplace. For example, a woman can be sexually discriminated at a job site that is conventionally known as a “man’s” job, if the other employees are constantly pestering her.
Severe or Pervasive
Sexual harassment can only be considered as such if it is severe or pervasive in sexual nature. For a singular incident to be regarded as
sexual harassment, it must be severe. An example of this includes a single occurrence of attempted rape. In order to determine whether conduct is persistent is to establish the frequency of the incidents, as well as the length of time the instances have been occurring, and how many people are affected by the sexual harassment
Consequences of sexual harassment in the work place
Sexual Harassment is illegal in the workplace, and there are many consequences to violators of workplace sexual harassment laws. These include termination, community service, probation, criminal fine, imprisonment; etc. The consequence depends on the type of sexual harassment. For example, rape or attempted rape is punishable by criminal proceedings since it “violates criminal laws” Enterprises and organizations, units where sexual harassment continually takes place bear direct and indirect consequences, including a reduction in productivity and profit, damage to their own reputation, negative impacts on business relationships, loss of human resources and an increase in the running costs of such enterprise or unit. •Reduction in productivity and profit: A healthy and safe working environment is extremely important for the productivity and profit of an institution. But in case of working environment with risk of sexual harassment, employees will be worried and have to find their own solutions. They will lose trust in other employees and encounter difficulties in working with their colleagues. “Electronic assembly requires accuracy, meaning high concentration. Even talking is not allowed, let said a female employee participating in focal group discussion. Employee’s distraction in work, especially production line, may seriously affect productivity, or even cause occupational accident, resulting in a reduction in profit of the institution. •Damage to reputation: In case of sexual harassment exposed to the public, reputation of such institution will fade away. Public trust and reputation in such institution might be destroyed, especially industries requiring standards of professional ethics that are stricter than others, such as education and health •Business relationships: When the employer sexually harasses an employee, their business relationship will be significantly damaged •Loss of skilled employees: Sexual harassment can result in skilled employees or those trained by such institution leaving their jobs. If a
continuous environment allowing sexual harassment is known about publicly, it may be very difficult for the institution to attract skilled employees. In other words, it such an institution will have less opportunities to retain skilled employees due to serious impacts of sexual harassment. •Increase of costs: Institutions must pay expenses related to sexual harassment including lawsuits, and additional recruitment and training costs (due to increasing employee turnover resulting from either victim or harasser quitting their job). The more sexual harassment cases appear, the higher the relative costs are.
Employers should provide all of their employees with communication regarding consequences, and they should take the appropriate steps if someone comes forward with a claim
Anyone can be a Victim
Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. Men are not excluded from harassment, and the accused can be a woman as well. Same sex harassment is as common as opposite sex harassment. The person committing the sexual harassment can be a supervisor of the victim, an agent of the organizations, an indirect supervisor, a coworker, or a client. Victims also include others indirectly affected by the harassment. If an employee feels they are being sexually harassed because the behavior is unsolicited, then they should first inform the harasser of their feelings, and secondly file a complaint with a superior or HR manager. Studies suggest that anywhere between 40-70% of women and 10-20% of men have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, Maya Risman,( January 19, 2012), Workplace Sexual Harassment Scary Stats PREVENTING SEXUAL HARRASSMENT
Managers can do much to create a work environment where sexual harassment is less likely to occur and where they will be able to learn about potential problems as soon as they arise. With preventive measures in place and with early warning, managers have the opportunity to address potential harassment before a situation escalates, (Ann Litwin and Sofie Hahn,2011) The following are ways to create an environment in which sexual harassment will be less likely to occur. 1.Continually assess the work environment for
signs that a problem may exist so that corrective action can be taken. Such signs may include: oOpen displays of inappropriate material or behaviors such as pin-up calendars, common use of sexually explicit language, or the telling of lewd jokes oFriction between the sexes as manifested by frequent complaints or grievances pitting women and men against each other oPersistent gossip that includes whispered conversations or sexually oriented rumors oSudden changes in an employee’s job performance
2.Distribute and post the sexual harassment policy and reporting procedure of your organization. If none exists, post the guidelines and elaborate specific conduct that is considered unacceptable. 3.Educate all employees by providing sexual harassment workshops and information. 4.Be an example. Show a gender-neutral attitude. Ask for feedback regularly from female and male employees about your own behavior. 5.Be firm and consistent. Work for changes in others’ attitudes. Do not tolerate offensive jokes or comments from women or men. Provide frequent feedback to employees who need to adjust their conduct. 6.Be personally accessible to employees and listen to their complaints. 7.Offer employees more than one route for registering complaints, including routes that bypass direct supervisors, who may be the source of harassment. 8.Respond quickly, fairly, and with as much confidentiality as possible to any complaint of sexual harassment.