Sexual Harassment in the Workplace


Sexual harassment is a critical issue affecting organizations worldwide. Sexual harassment in the workplace refers to unwelcome sexual advances through either physical conduct or verbal conduct and directed to another employee within the organization. Although incidences of sexual harassment mostly involve women as victim, men may also be victims of sexual harassment. On most occasion, issues of sexual harassment are kept private due to fear of retaliatory action. When sexual harassment involves a member of senior management and junior employees, the matter may go unreported due to fear of losing the job on the side of the victim. Many victims of sexual violence suffer in silence due to fear of victimization. This paper examines the different forms of sexual violence in the organization, the role of Human Resource Department in developing appropriate policies, and makes recommendations for further analysis of the issue.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace has arisen to be one of the most challenging issues in the human resource sector. An unethical and illegal act, sexual harassment at the workplace has been found to hinder maximum productivity from the affected individuals, an issue that has led to the falling levels of performance of most corporations. Individuals from both genders can be victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, which then calls for an inclusive set of strategies aimed at addressing the effects of such a form of violence. The current paper analyzes the forms of violence of sexual violence at the workplace, the steps that human resource policymakers have taken to deal with the situation, and the recommendations that should be considered to ensure that the issues are resolved conclusively with the aim of enhancing the growth and development of the involved corporations.

Forms of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

The modern workplace has emerged to be significantly different from what it looked like a few years back. Unlike in the past years, the modern workplace brings together both men and women, given the affirmative actions that have been undertaken to ensure that there is a balance of the two genders in the modern workplace (Hershcovis & Barling, 2010). In this context, the number of female employees in the modern workplace has increased significantly when comparing the outlook from the past years. Such an increase in the number of female workers in the modern workplace has been linked to a surge in the cases being reported regarding sexual harassment. In this context, the current paper has taken the effort to ensure that it classifies the different forms of sexual harassment.

1.Sexual harassment-Inappropriate actions and gestures

The first form of sexual harassment involved inappropriate actions and gestures that could suggest that one may be making sexual advances towards another worker. Inappropriate body contact and communication can also be classified under this first form of sexual harassment. It has been established that most workers have to contend with this form sexual harassment almost on a daily basis. While women have been shown to suffer the worst from this form of sexual violence, research has also shown that men are at a significant risk to suffer from this form of sexual violence (Hershcovis & Barling, 2010). As such, given the privacy issues that are involved in the modern workplace setting, it is quite difficult to monitor or confirm reports indicating such a form of sexual violence.

2.Sexual harassment-Senior level employees threaten junior employees 

The second form of sexual violence involves when the employees at a senior level, or those that have a significant influence in the corporation involved in such a case, threaten junior employees unless they give sexual favors. Apparently, demands for sexual favors from senior employees to junior employees are another form of sexual harassment that has been common in the modern workplace setting (Lach & Gwartney-Gibbs, 1993). Both men and women have had to deal with the challenges that emerge with this form of violence, which in most cases have been more profound than with the other forms of sexual violence. In fact, the workers involved in such a form of sexual violence have had to contend with serious personal and family problems that have affected their productivity in a significant way.

3. Sexual harassment-gender disparities in the compensation terms for work done

The third form of sexual harassment has taken the shape of the gender disparities in the compensation terms for work done. Apparently, many corporations have been implementing a policy that has perpetuated the payment difference between men and women despite the fact that they complete the same amount of work (Cortina, 2008). In recent years, it has emerged that most companies pay women a significantly low amount of work upon their completion of a similar type and amount of work that their male counterparts accomplish. The persistent calls have led to some companies to identifying the sexual harassment issue involved in such a practice, and it is evident that efforts are being undertaken to address the trend.

Role of the Human Resource Management in Addressing the Issue

The human resource management has significant role to play in the sexual harassment debacle within organizations. The Human Resource (HR) Department is entitled with developing relevant policies that will shield employees from any forms of sexual harassment. Failure of the HR department to deter incidences of sexual harassment can lead to an environment of fear especially for female employees. In order for the HR department to be effective in curbing incidences of sexual violence, the organization should establish a zero tolerance towards reported incidences of sexual harassment. This involves taking the necessary action to investigate reported incidences and to punish those who are found guilty in accordance with the organizational policy.

The human resource management has come together with the aim of encouraging the employers to ensure that all forms of sexual harassment are addressed as urgently as possible. Human resource experts have had most governments to initiate laws calling for harsh punishment and penalties for all the perpetrators of all the different forms of sexual harassment in the modern workplace. In the same context, the human resource fraternity has been taking proactive measures to roll out education and training ventures in which workers are trained on the best practices for dealing with the issue of sexual harassment in the modern workplace (Cortina, 2008). Additionally, the training has been focusing on ensuring that all employees in the various corporations know and understand their rights and opportunities when it comes to dealing with job-related issues.

Organization role in taming sexual harassment

The entire organization has an important role to play in taming incidences of sexual harassment. According to Abbott, Elkins, Phillips, and Madera (2014), the organizational stand towards incidences of sexual harassment is the most important factor in determining whether victims make sexual harassment claims. The employees’ perceptions of the organization’s willingness to take action against perpetrators of sexual harassment influence their intent to press sexual harassment claims. If a particular organization lacks a sexual harassment policy, it would be very difficult for employees to come out and report incidences of sexual violence. The management is legally liable for any incidences of sexual harassment reported in the organization, whether they were aware or not.


The current paper recommends that the employers initiate a working environment that discourages all forms of sexual harassment among all their employees. It is important that employers set up a department that deals with employee complaints, and the employees ought to be assured that they will not be victimized if they report various cases relating to sexual violence. Additionally, the current paper recommends more research on the topic to ensure that sexual harassment trends in the workplace are understood effectively.


The current paper posits that sexual harassment remains an issue of significant concern in the modern work environment. Although significant positive steps have been taken, it is clear that more work needs to be done to ensure that sexual harassment is entirely wiped out from the modern workplace. As such, human resource insight ought to be the sort to ensure that resolutions that are more effective are developed in the efforts to eradicate sexual harassment in the modern workplace. Finally, it is important to train all the stakeholders involved in the workforces of various corporation to ensure that they understand the different issues about sexual harassment.


Abbott, J. L., Elkins, T. J., Phillips, J. S., & Madera, J. M. (2014). Attributing corporate    responsibility for sexual harassment: The supervisory connection. Cornell Hospitality           Quarterly, 55(4), 376-387. doi:10.1177/1938965513511145

Cortina, L. M. (2008). Unseen injustice: Incivility as modern discrimination in organizations. Academy of management review33(1), 55-75.

Hershcovis, M. S., & Barling, J. (2010). Comparing victim attributions and outcomes for workplace aggression and sexual harassment.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(5):874-88.

Lach, D. H., & Gwartney-Gibbs, P. A. (1993). Sociological perspectives on sexual harassment and workplace dispute resolution. Journal of Vocational Behavior42(1), 102-115.