Sexual Harassment in the Workplace:Literature Review


Identify at least 5 sources in order to construct a literature review. The sources may include peer-reviewed journal articles, books, newspaper articles or other appropriate academic sources. Write a literature review of at least 3 pages that identifies the key themes in your chosen research topic along with authors who support these themes. Use specific evidence from every source for each theme. Please note: By using the authors’ evidence you are presenting their points of view as your own; choose the sources carefully to represent what you are trying to prove.  Submit your literature review in the appropriate citation style for your discipline.

Sample paper

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace- Literature Review

Sexual harassment is a contentious issue in the modern workplace. The emergence of new interaction channels through the social media sites has further complicated the issue. Mainiero and Jones (2013a) examine the complexities involved in workplace romance and the role played by social media. The key point is that sexual harassment in organizations can occur in more subtle ways such as through the misuse of social media sites. According to Mainiero and Jones (2013a), organizations should develop social media use policies that support the existing anti-harassment policies within organizations. Mainiero and Jones (2013b) conclude that organizations should make it clear to their employees concerning behaviors that are ethical when it comes to the use of social media and those that entail sexual harassments. The organization should describe particular behaviors relating to the use of social media constitutes sexual harassment. This would help the employees in making informed choices.

Ways organizations can reduce sexual harassment incidences 

Voluminous literature examines the possible ways that organizations can reduce incidences of sexual harassment. Organizations can employ three main approaches in reducing incidences of sexual harassment. These include creating awareness, development of anti-harassment policies, and through training (Malhotra & Srivastava, 2016). Creating awareness is a proactive measure that can help in reducing incidences of sexual harassment. Developing awareness enables employees to know what constitutes sexual harassment. This gives them the knowhow on what and when to report. A sexual harassment policy is critical in reducing incidences of sexual harassment in the organization. This involves including helpline numbers to aid victims in reporting incidences. Training is also critical in the fight against sexual harassment. Training enables employees to know what constitutes sexual harassment and informs them about their rights.

Role of  management  in regard to incidences of sexual harassment in the workplace

Some studies have examined the role of management with regard to incidences of sexual harassment in the workplace. The Human Resource Department has a critical role to play in combating incidences of sexual harassment. Salin (2007) conducts an exploratory study to examine the influence of measures applied by personnel managers as well as the personnel managers’ and organizational characteristics in shaping the choice of response strategies. The study indicates that reconciliatory approaches are often employed in solving disputes involving sexual harassment in Finland. Further, the study notes a tendency to employ punitive and reconciliatory measures in the workplace. Further, the study notes that personnel managers have little initiative to implement or take action where there are simply written anti-harassment policies. The study recommends training and creation of awareness as key to improving efforts to reduce incidences of sexual harassment. Training and creation of awareness are thus effecting strategies to combat sexual harassment (Salin, 2007; Malhotra & Srivastava, 2016). The limitation of this study was the limited number of respondents.

Incidences of sexual harassment high among young job seekers

Incidences of sexual harassment are high among young college female graduates seeking for employment. Despite the recognition of women as equal to men, women are still on the receiving end when it comes to incidences of sexual harassment. Khumalo, Gwandure, and Mayesiko (2015) conducted a qualitative study to examine how young female graduates perceive the concept of sexual harassment within organizations. The findings of this study indicate that young female job seekers are at an increased risk of experiencing sexual harassment. In a study that examined workplace violence among nursing students in the UK, student nurses were found to be particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment due to their young age (Tee, Ozcetin, & Russell-Westhead, 2016). This indicates that younger female employees are at an increased risk of sexual harassment especially by the older males.

Health impacts of sexual harassment on women

Vast literature indicates that sexual harassment in the workplace has serious health impacts on the victims who are mainly women. Sexual harassment has both short-term and long-term impacts on the health of the victims. Sexual harassment contributes to low self-esteem, anxiety, stress, and depression. Sexual harassment may also result to physical illness and drug and alcohol abuse among victims (DeSouzam & Cerqueira, 2009; Salin, 2007). DeSouzam and Cerqueira (2009) quantitative analysis found significant differences in health between harassed and non-harassed female employees, with the former experiencing averse health impacts. In addition, the duo notes that victims of sexual harassment are likely to experience retaliation by the perpetrators once they reported the incidences to the management. This contributes to re-victimization.

Men victims of sexual harassment 

Although most incidences of sexual harassment involve women as victims, a small fraction may also involve men as victims. Incidences of sexual harassment are largely perpetrated by men against their female colleagues. Nonetheless, this does not exclude incidences where men may harass other men or women harassing other women (McDonald & Charlesworth, 2015). The findings of this study indicate that sexual harassment occurs within the “normatively masculine organizational context” (p.). This means that sexual harassment often corresponds to the gendered structure of modern organizations. Masculinity plays a significant role in influencing incidences of sexual harassment by men against women in the workplace. In some workplaces, women may be forced to agree to some forms of sexual harassment as a way of asserting their social status. Moreover, most patriarchal societies seem to condone violence against women.


DeSouza, E. R., & Cerqueira, E. (2009). From the kitchen to the bedroom: Frequency rates and             consequences of sexual harassment among female domestic workers in brazil. Journal of             Interpersonal Violence, 24(8), 1264-1284. doi:10.1177/0886260508322189

Khumalo, L., Gwandure, C., & Mayekiso, T. (2015). Examining perceptions of sexual      harassment among recent female graduates in the workplace. Africa Insight, 44(4), 106-          123.

Mainiero, L. A., & Jones, K. J. (2013a). Workplace romance 2.0: Developing a communication   ethics model to address potential sexual harassment from inappropriate social media      contacts between coworkers. Journal of Business Ethics, 114(2), 367-379.      doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1349-8

Mainiero, L. A., & Jones, K. J. (2013b). Sexual harassment versus workplace romance: Social     media spillover and textual harassment in the workplace. The Academy of Management   Perspectives, 27(3), 187.

Malhotra, S., & Srivastava, A. (2016). Sexual harassment at the workplace: How organizations    can pro-actively reduce its incidence. Human Resource Management International             Digest, 24(7), 1-3. doi:10.1108/HRMID-05-2016-0072

McDonald, P., & Charlesworth, S. (2016). Workplace sexual harassment at the margins. Work,    Employment & Society, 30(1), 118-134. doi:10.1177/0950017014564615

Salin, D. (2009). Organisational responses to workplace harassment: An exploratory         study. Personnel Review, 38(1), 26-44. doi:10.1108/00483480910920697

Tee, S., Üzar Özçetin, Y. S., & Russell-Westhead, M. (2016). Workplace violence experienced    by nursing students: A UK survey. Nurse Education Today, 41, 30-35. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2016.03.014


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