The Issue of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Executive Summary

The following proposal focuses on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. It discusses the need for the implementation of recommended changes that provide an opportunity to prevent and overcome this problem. Those companies that do not pay enough attention to the cases of sexual harassment should follow the described action plan. The advantages of the recommended alterations are explained in detail in the text of this paper. A range of negative effects made by poor employee relationships and the presence of sexual harassment cases are mentioned for the management to realize the necessity to address this problem.

Start-ups and those companies that already have a long history of performance can face the discussed issue while operating. As a result, their personnel becomes unable to perform their duties appropriately, which worsens organizational performance. Stating this position regarding sexual harassment and educating employees, companies can receive an opportunity to improve employee relations and increase their satisfaction, which will definitely affect their performance.

In this document, I provide a set of recommendations that can benefit any company. I believe that proper change can be implemented anytime. The enhancement of employee knowledge is the main element that requires the management’s attention.

Introduction

Employee relationships are often discussed by professionals because they have a great influence on the way a company operates and reaches their goals. In positive and supportive relationships, workers tend to be motivated to reach their potential. However, the same outcomes are never observed in those organizations where diverse workforce fails to have appropriate relationships. Some employers believe that workplace romances prevent their employees from being focused on their duties.

Even more adverse effects can be observed because of sexual harassment, as it does not involve mutual attraction, but it is based on unreciprocated advances (Mainiero & Jones, 2013). If such cases are overlooked, employee performance worsens, and they become less motivated to reach organizational goals (McLaughlin, Uggen, & Blackstone, 2012). A sexual harassment policy, consensual agreement forms, workshops, and dress codes are to be developed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. In this way, they can ensure diversity, encourage gender equality, and develop a positive working environment.

Background

Sexual harassment is a critical issue that can be observed in a diverse workplace when employees of both genders need to cooperate in order to perform their duties. In the majority of cases, this type of gender discrimination targets females. It can involve physical abuse but can also deal with the use of social media and text messages (Nielsen & Einarsen, 2012). Even though it is not a direct representation of sexual harassment, this aspect of the issue cannot be ignored because employees have access to social media not only at home but also in the workplace.

Even though the management does not have an opportunity to control the presence of the whole personnel on social media, it can develop associated policies that are to be followed in the office. Without them, the whole company is likely to observe adverse influences of sexual harassment. A victim will be affected emotionally: she will lose her self-esteem, which will influence the way she communicates with clients and coworkers. As a result, she will have a poor appetite, suffer from headaches, and have sleep disturbances. Facing such issues, this person will become likely to look for another job. In this way, sexual harassment will also cause low productivity and morale in the organization. Employee turnover will increase as well as associated expenses.

Recommendations

First of all, a company should develop its sexual harassment policy and ensure that all professionals have an opportunity to access it. This information can be provided in a handbook or/and placed in the break room for it to be regularly observed (Letke, 2014). This policy statement should include the following information:

  • Company’s attitude towards discrimination and harassment as well as their definitions;
  • Employee’s rights and obligations;
  • Explanation of the violation of the policy;
  • Description of unacceptable behavior;
  • Outline of the way complaints are handled (confidentiality, protection, assistance, investigation, resolution, etc.);
  • Applied measures.

Even though it seems that in order to prevent sexual harassment, it is better to prohibit office romances, they are still likely to appear. The leaders of the organization can benefit if they develop consensual agreement forms that are to be filled in by those employees who entered the relationship willingly. As a result, an opportunity to prevent sexual harassment will be received.

The leaders of a company should always remember that employees follow their example. They should not be engaged in those behaviors they do not encourage. For instance, they should not laugh at inappropriate sexual jokes, reminding personnel that they are offensive (Letke, 2014). In addition to that, it is significant to let an employee know that those jokes one tells are inappropriate so that he/she can avoid such context in the future.

The management can also develop the office dress code to prevent sexual harassment. It especially deals with the way female employees dress up. Their clothes should not emphasize their bodies and attract additional attention to them.

It will be beneficial to develop anti-harassment workshops, during which problems that are associated with this issue are discussed. The upper-level employees are to be present at these meetings, as they are expected to share the obtained information with others.

Taking into consideration the fact that sexual harassment can deal with emails and social media, the management should encourage employees to follow particular standards of this communication. Moreover, corporate emails can be checked randomly. It is also vital to make all employees know that reporting of social harassment cases is appreciated. In this way, they will be less likely to become engaged in such actions.

If the management received sexual harassment complaints, they should respond to them as soon as possible. Immediate action ensures that inappropriate behavior will not last long, and adverse influences on a victim will not become even more critical. Moreover, such an approach ensures that no retaliation will follow harassment (Letke, 2014). An effective sexual harassment preventive plan should be developed to ensure a safe and comfortable environment.

In order to implement the discussed initiatives, the leaders of the organization should develop an action plan. Fortunately, such alterations can be done using minimum resources, which means that they can be used by any company regardless of its success. The whole process can last for a month approximately, but more time may be needed if some employees are not willing to accept changes and follow new instructions.

  • Week 1: gather information needed for the development of sexual harassment policy and consensual agreement forms. Identify those behaviors that should be appreciated. Develop a general plan for workshops. Reveal what kind of dress code is likely to be the most appropriate.
  • Week 2: prepare all materials that are to be studied by employees and ensure that all of them have access to it. Create a meeting that is focused on the sexual harassment and those initiatives the company is implementing in order to prevent it. Select those upper-level employees who will monitor the situation and make sure that the personnel follows new rules.
  • Week 3: observe changes. Identify those issues that occur as well as changes in the organizational environment. Prepare reports for the management team.
  • Week 4: create a meeting for the upper-level personnel to discuss observed obstacles and develop solutions to overcome them. Implement additional changes to minimalize employee resistance.

The management of any organization needs to realize that successful implementation of changes that address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace can be done in four steps (see Fig. 1). At first, professionals should develop a strategy that they will use as a guideline for alteration. It is to point out how employees’ behavior will be made different, describing specific approaches that minimalize associated problems (Imran, Bilal, Aslam, & Rahman, 2017).

This strategy should be followed by the creation of a plan that can be used to recognize, approve, implement, monitor, and evaluate changes. With the help of this information, the management can pass to the second step and start educating its personnel. All employees should become aware of the existing problem and realize why it is critical for the company. They need to understand what behaviors and actions are associated with sexual harassment so that they can avoid them in the future. In addition to that, it will be advantageous for them to find out how this issue can be prevented and avoided, as well as how they should act if it is observed (Sikdar & Payyazhi, 2014).

When the main step to the change is made, the management should consider the ways to monitor alterations. It is the only possibility to find out if the implementation was successful and the alteration was useful for the organization. They need to focus on the prevalence of sexual harassment cases, employee relations, and performance. Finally, utilizing the data received through monitoring, the management should identify weaknesses of the implementation and cases of resistance to change (Jones & Van de Ven, 2016). Concentrating on them, they should develop a strategy to overcome these problems and execute it.

Implementation Plan.
Figure 1: Implementation Plan.

However, this approach works for a company that has not to face such issues yet. In cases of sexual harassment made the management implement changes, there would be a necessity to add an initial step to this process that deals with the evaluation of the current situation.

When the management is willing to alter something in the way the company operates, it should develop a change strategy, pointing out what should be done and how. As soon as all needed resources are gathered, it is possible to let the personnel acknowledge how they are expected to change their behavior. Additional education should be provided for them to be able to meet new requirements.

Then, the upper-level personnel or selected supervisors should monitor the situation, noting what alterations are observed and what effects they make. If some weaknesses of the plan or personnel resistance were seen, the management should design additional changes to overcome them. In case some employees do not agree to follow new instructions, regardless of the attempts to make them alter their position, it can be better for the management to fire them. Those adverse influences their obduracy creates can damage leaders’ reputation and make the rest of the personnel follow their negative example.

In this way, advantages are likely to be observed due to the creation of sexual harassment policy and consensual agreement forms for romances in the workplace. The management should organize anti-harassment workshops and remember that they are to lead their employees by their own example. It will also be advantageous to create address code that can minimalize risks of improper treatment of female employees. Emails and social media should be controlled, as well. Finally, even if cases of sexual harassment occur, they are to be responded immediately.

Benefits

If the management realizes how critical the cases of sexual harassment in the workplace are, its members will definitely implement changes to follow provided recommendations. As a result, the company is likely to observe numerous benefits. When no gender discrimination exists, and employees are not sexually harassed, they are likely to create a positive environment that encourages equity and cooperation.

The personnel will be able to share and accept varied viewpoints without being afraid to observe adverse consequences of speaking up their minds. Both men and women will improve workplace functionality (Clapon, 2015). They will not have any problems while cooperating and will stimulate each other to reach their potential.

Employee communication will definitely improve when no sexual harassment is observed. Female workers will not lose their self-esteem and will not be afraid to stand their ground or explain their ideas. In this way, it will be easier for them to find a conflict resolution.

Needless to say that the absence of sexual harassment will increase an opportunity for the employees to build a positive work environment that encourages support and respect. It will be more pleasant for all involved parties to work in such an environment as diversity will not cause any critical problems that prevent workers from performing their duties. Mutual respect is vital in this framework because it already presupposes the absence of sexual harassment, as they cannot coexist.

In this way, employees can have an opportunity to focus on the strengths of their colleagues, which will have positive effects on the allocation of tasks in the future (Mayhew, 2017). As a result, the whole personnel will be prepared to handle conflicts when they arise without affecting company morale adversely. All in all, job performance will be expected to enhance significantly.

When the management implements those initiatives that are targeted at the prevention of sexual harassment or when it tries to resolve an existing issue, it shows that it values its employees and is always ready to take care of them. This fact is critical for the successful cooperation of the whole personnel and for the enhanced working outcomes. In particular, realizing that they are supported by organizational leaders, employees tend to become more willing to work harder and improve the quality of their services. In addition to that, their job satisfaction will enhance because they will definitely see that they are highly valued, and their contribution is appreciated.

As it was already mentioned, customer performance has a positive influence on the performance of the whole organization. When the leaders of the company develop initiatives to prevent sexual harassment, they make their employees feel valued and respected. Gender equality and diversity is supported, which is definitely mentioned by the personnel. In this way, they become more motivated to work hard. Their enhanced performance ensures that the company enhances its competitiveness and manages to satisfy its clients. As a result, its reputation improves significantly, and its positive image is spread all over the world (NAWBO Publications, 2016).

In this way, more people will be willing to work for this company, as discriminatory work environments do not attract potential workers, as they are associated with additional stress. Equality, support, and reward are those things that attract people. Having an opportunity to develop them with the help of initiatives that address sexual harassment, employers can receive an opportunity to make their company outstanding.

In the same perspective, dealing with sexual harassment, the management can obtain an opportunity to minimalize turnover and reduce associated costs. If a woman is sexually harassed by her colleague and the management does not do anything to overcome this situation, she will be likely to leave her position and to look for another job outside of this company. The same can be said about men. Even if they are not victims, they may be willing to avoid the created environment because it is not positive.

Moreover, their relationships with female colleagues can worsen even if they are not involved in the very case of sexual harassment just because of their gender. However, emphasis made on care and support is likely to have good retention outcomes. Fostering gender diversity and equity, a company can spend less on recruiting because there will be no necessity to look for new employees all the time. In this way, expenses associated with advertising, resources needed for interviews, and termination pay, etc. can be minimalized. Observing decreased turnover, new workers will be less likely to change their job as well.

Conclusions

Thus, it can be concluded that sexual harassment in the workplace is a critical issue that has adverse influences on employee relationships and the overall performance of the whole organization. It prevents the creation of a supportive environment and does not provide employees with an opportunity to reach their potential. In order to overcome this problem, organizational leaders should develop and implement those initiatives that are expected to prevent sexual harassment or at least to point out the way such issues can be overcome. In this way, advantages are likely to be observed due to the creation of sexual harassment policy and consensual agreement forms for romances in the workplace.

The management should organize anti-harassment workshops and remember that they are to lead their employees by their own example. It will also be advantageous to create address code that can minimalize risks of improper treatment of female employees. Emails and social media should be controlled, as well. Finally, even if cases of sexual harassment occur, they are to be responded immediately. Only in this way, the leaders of the organization can obtain an opportunity to ensure diversity, encourage gender equality, and develop a positive working environment that motivates the personnel to cooperate and fulfill organizational goals.

References

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Jones, S., & Van de Ven, A. (2016). The changing nature of change resistance: An examination of the moderating impact of time. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 52(4), 482-506.

Letke, A. (2014). 7 steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Web.

Mainiero, L. A., & Jones, K. J. (2013). Sexual harassment versus workplace romance: Social media spillover and textual harassment in the workplace. The Academy of Management Perspectives, 27(3), 187-203.

Mayhew, R. (2017). Why is respect important in a diverse workplace? Web.

McLaughlin, H., Uggen, C., & Blackstone, A. (2012). Sexual harassment, workplace authority, and the paradox of power. American Sociological Review, 77(4), 625-647.

NAWBO Publications. (2016). Five huge benefits of gender equality in your business. Web.

Nielsen, M. B., & Einarsen, S. (2012). Prospective relationships between workplace sexual harassment and psychological distress. Occupational Medicine, 62(3), 226-228.

Sikdar, A., & Payyazhi, J. (2014). A process model of managing organizational change during business process redesign. Business Process Management Journal, 20(6), 971-998.