Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Updated: Jun 29, 2022
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Sexual harassment in the workplace has been a significant issue that many organizations around the world are grappling with. There have been numerous court cases regarding such issues. Notably, the issue is considered the newest form of gender discrimination in the workplace. In fact, many companies have had to pay substantial amounts of money to victims of sexual assault. Veterans Affairs Clinic (VA) is also one of such organizations, and the organization has revealed several issues about sexual harassment (Stockwell, 2017). In one of these cases, a female employee reported sexual harassment, which is regarded as an aspect of a hostile work environment.

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Th e following section shows a study of general causes for sexual harassment, and the results of the interview in Veterans Affairs Clinic, and a possible solution. Research for general causes of sexual harassment in workplace Although all organizations are required to have a diverse workforce, and the claims for any discrimination are increasing globally (United Nations Human Rights Office Of The High Commissioner, n.d), it is still far from equality for men and women.

The cause of sexual harassment in the workplace has two aspects. One is the character of male and female, and the other one is related to the work environment. Although people’s characters are different and unique, gender in general, could influence their personality. Gender, gender perceptions, gender identity, and stereotypical gender roles all could play a part in personality and social interactions. Therefore, gender stereotypes can play a role in the organization. What an organization requires could depend on gender role perceptions and stereotypes, and as a result, certain situations could cause sexual harassment, and it would continue unaddressed, and unresolved by management in the workplace. According to Niederle and Vesterlund (2007), men tend to be more competitive than women, and they are willing to show that they are strong. This character trait possibly causes sexual harassment to women in the workplace. According to Connley (2017), sexual harassment tends to happen when a man is willing to be dominant in a workplace. Female workers are currently increasing, and the competition can be intense. Male workers try to protect their status, and that can lead to possible abuse and sexual harassment for female workers. On the other hand, women tend to avoid competitive situation (Niederle & Vesterlund, 2007). Also, even if they suffer from sexual harassment in the workplace, they tend to be hesitant to report the issue (Johnson, Kirk, & Keplinger, 2016). They can be afraid that there is a possibility that they might cause a hostile work environment by reporting the issue (Johnson, Kirk, & Keplinger, 2016). In this way, each gender character would make sexual harassment easier in a work environment, and difficult to open the issue. Another aspect that can cause sexual harassment in a work environment is corporate culture and employee’s behavior. Last year, sexual harassment at Uber was revealed by former employee, Susan Fowler. She explained the situation in her blog, and showed the causes of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The corporate culture made employees behave unethically. Fowler (2017) explained the corporate environment in Uber was obviously an excessively performance-based system. Employees who achieved high performance could do whatever they wanted, and the other employees accepted that behavior even though it was unethical. Moreover, Fowler (2017) pointed out that the Human Resources department did not work appropriately. The department should have investigated the issue when she reported it. The department explained to her that the issue was the first time her superior had committed sexual harassment. The Human Resources department tried to encourage Fowler to put up with the issue. However, her superior actually had worked on sexual harassment several times before the issue happened. In other words, he was a habitual offender. Also, there were many women employees who suffered from sexual harassment in the company, and most of them did not report their issues. This is because they had already known that sexual harassment was not going to stop in the workplace even if they reported it to the Human Resources department. The information by the interview in VA The interview was conducted in the VA to ask two employees about their work environment. One was a man, the other one was a woman. The questionnaires were based on the primary research involving the character for gender, work environment, individual behavior, and the Human Resources department.

The first question was about the opinion of the work environment. Both the man and the woman answered that they hope to work there until retirement because the VA is a large, federal organization. Therefore, they think their future is secure. Although they feel high job satisfaction for their workplace, the opinion for work environment was different for them. The woman answered the work environment that most women workers prioritize is job satisfaction more than promotion and salary. On the other hand, the man answered that most men workers strive for promotion, and he feels his work environment is intense and competitive. Therefore, he thinks there are some men employees, who are willing to dominate their own territory. The second question was about sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Although the man did not see and hear his co-workers who experienced sexual harassment in the work place, the woman had heard from a female co-worker, who felt as if she suffered from gender discrimination by her male superior. However, they have never reported and complained about their workplace. Because, they are afraid the situation might become a hostile work environment if they reported. Also, the male employee answered that even if he heard about a sexual harassment issue, he would hesitate to report the issue because he has a similar. The third question was about relationship with the Human Resources department. Both the man and woman answered that they usually do not get involved with the department, and they do not know about how the department works. They answered even if sexual harassment happens in the VA, the Human Resources department would not work to resolve the issue. In other words, both employees do not have confidence in the department.

The solution There are few common elements in both the primary research and interview about sexual harassment in the workplace. Some workers in the VA tend to be hesitant to get involved with any issues, and feel fear for reporting. They are just willing to focus on their work. The situation is shown that the employees tend to be selfish. The key point to resolve the situation is the Human Resources department. The department should be there to work for employees and it should improve the environment so that all employee can feel high job satisfaction. Therefore, the Human Resources department should form positive relationships with all departments in the work place. There are three ways that the department can form positive relationships with employees. First, the Human Resources department should have training and seminars to all departments for stopping sexual harassment and gender discrimination. It will show employees that the department is working to resolve the issue. Also, the department should make the time to interview with employees. If it does not have enough time to see all employees, it should make the time to see managers in each department at least. Moreover, the department can take a survey anonymously. This encourages employees to tell the truth about how they think about the workplace. Through the ways, the organization should know deeply about each work environment within it. 

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Sexual Harassment In The Workplace. (2022, Jun 29). Retrieved from