Sexual harassment at work is one of the major problems women face today. Uninvited comments or behavior at a workplace are neither flattery nor desired compliments women want to hear. Moreover, fear, shame, and even cultural background make the harassed women keep calm. This is why sexual harassment at work may sometimes remain unreported.
The statistics on sexual harassment at work comes to tell all of us about the state of this problem. Some stories share how offended, humiliated and intimidated it feels to be harassed.
To control the situation serious steps should be taken and laws should be enforced to prevent sexual harassment at work.
Now it might seem that doing your favorite job at your workplace is no longer safe. Thinking of what to do to handle the problem? We’ll provide you with some tips as well.
What is Sexual Harassment at Work?
Before touching upon the problem let’s define it. So, what does sexual harassment at work mean? Why does it turn the pleasant working day into a hell?
The answer is simple! Sexual harassment at work is a form of discrimination and violation of rights of employees. In other words, it is all about “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.“
Such conduct can be carried out against both male and female and laws must protect these two genders equally. However, statistics show that women are more likely to be sexually harassed at the workplace.
What Kind of Behavior is Considered Sexual Harassment at Work?
The situations sexual harassment occurs vary. Here are some examples of such behavior:
- Unwanted jokes, gestures, offensive words and comments
- Touching, grabbing around the waist, kissing or hugging an employee. Even interfering with an employee’s ability to move is kind of a harassment
- Requests for dates or other get-togethers
- Sending or posting emails and pictures of harassment-related nature
- Displaying improper objects, pictures, or posters in the workplace
Statistics on Sexual Harassment at Work: Figures are Really Disappointing
It sounds weird but many stories about sexual harassment at work remain untold. This can depart from various concerns the harassed ones, especially women have. Some of them do not want to lose their jobs, others are afraid of the response they will get from family members, etc.
However, according to the statistics carried in the USA 33 million U.S. women have faced sexual harassment at work.
Moreover, these women report that such behavior usually goes unpunished. This is really unfair. Aren’t laws protecting basic human rights that strong to punish the guilty ones? Probably this is why the problem rises to an alarming degree.
In 2016, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a comprehensive study of sexual harassment at work. It concluded that “anywhere from 25% to 85% of women report about being sexually harassed at the workplace“. In other words, such statistics show that one in four people experience workplace sexual harassment.
In the world where democratic activities are told to be on the roll, such figures seem unreal. However, the problem still exists and women have to face it all over the world. The bold ones, anyway, share their stories to raise awareness about how harmful sexual harassment at work can be.
How Harmful Can Sexual Harassment at Work Be?
Women opened up about their personal experience after the #MeToo campaign went viral on the Internet. The tweeter was overwhelmed with their stories. Here is one of them.
Lisa Wang is the co-founder of female entrepreneur collective SheWorx. She was caught off guard at Consumer Electronics Show this year when a pitch meeting quickly went south. Lisa told about her experience on tweeter.
We’re sitting at the Starbucks, and he grabs my face and tries to make out with me, and I push him back in surprise, and just didn’t know what to do, because he continued to try again, and was so aggressive.Lisa Wang
Unfortunately, Lisa’s case is not the only one. Such kind of behavior may be quite harmful to women. I do not talk about physical violence only. Psychological one can be equally dangerous. Such trauma may affect every aspect of women’s lives.
So, it is better to voice the problem. The less we talk about it, the fewer things will change in the future.
Laws Preventing Sexual Harassment at Work
In general in every working environment employees must understand the importance of reporting about sexual harassment concerns to their supervisor, manager or the Human Resources office.
Only after learning about that HR staff will be able to take measures to address sexual harassment at work. After such a complaint an immediate investigation of the charge should occur. In other words, sexual harassment at work is a crime which should be regulated by laws.
Both state and federal laws in the US, for instance, protect employees from sexual harassment at work. It is considered a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Actually, it is the base level for sexual harassment claims. Other laws can be more strict.
In the Philippines, another Republic Act declares sexual harassment unlawful at work, education and in other spheres. So the outlaws have no chances to avoid punishment.
What To Do? Tips to Address the Crime
To create a safer working environment employers should consider many things. Here is what to do to prevent sexual harassment at work.
- Create a clear policy of employment, hiring, firing, and communication. Make sure all the employees have the policy handbook at hand.
- Hold annual sexual harassment training and retraining for all the staff
- Make sure the managers and supervisors understand the importance of maintaining no tolerance for sexual harassment at work
- Monitor emails and other electronic communications to scan for harassing content as well as monitor behavior of the staff.
- Define the process to submit complaints. Every employee should be aware of that opportunity.
- Define consequences for such behavior
- Work on a culture and policy where sexual harassment is not welcome and tolerated. This will inspire employees to avoid such behavior or let the HR know about in case it occurs
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