Sexual harassment has been rampant in the workplace in recent times. With the emergence of 24 hour economies and global markets, women and men are constantly required to work anywhere around the globe and at any time. However, working in an uncomfortable environment is a major human resource challenge in the current century of internationalization of business. Sexual harassment is one of the several practises that constantly challenge the human resource function of global as well as regional businesses (Fiedler, Anne., & Blanco, Ivan, 2006).
It has also been noted that some professions have readily accepted unwelcome sexual behavior from their clients in order to preserve business. Even in organizations that have clear sexual harassment policies, some workers are reluctant to label some behaviors as sexual harassment. The general issue of sexual harassment is subjective and this makes it hard for managers to create a uniform definition of sexual harassment. Even such reputable and reliable institution as Congress occurred in the center of sexual harassment scandals and disputes
However, reported and unreported sexual harassment has negative impacts on both the employee and the employer. While employees who are victims of sexual harassment suffer psychological disturbances due to compromised dignity, the employer faces huge financial charges as well as corporate image. It is therefore important to come up with a standard definition of unwelcome sexual behavior and educate workers on how to handle sexual offenders. How common Americans could protect themselves, as crisis in social relations may cause loss of job, whether it is possible to solve the problem without court trail and detailed examination,
Sexual harassment can be defined as the making of unsolicited sexual requests, advances or conduct. Sexual harassment can be directed to an employee of the same or opposite gender through verbal or non-verbal means. Within the workplace, verbal sexual provocation can be in the form of sexually suggestive comments, jokes, compliments, flirting or music that is evidently unwelcome by the recipient (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2002).
On the other hand, non-verbal provocation can take the form of sexually suggestive images, dressing, posture, space, gestures, touch as well as videos that make the recipient uncomfortable (Gross, 2008). Sexual harassment at the workplace creates discomfort, guilt, intimidation and can have adverse impacts on the victim as well as the overall performance (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2002). However, different countries have come up with definitions of which behavior can be considered as sexually discriminative or not, and therefore sexual harassment policies vary across the globe (Fiedler, Anne & Blanco, Ivan, 2006).
Conduct at workplace is therefore highly dictated by the culture of the country, but some behaviors are globally unacceptable. Within the European Union, sexual harassment was found to be more prevalent in countries in Northern Europe. In the United States, it was discovered that 40% of women and 10% of women have experienced sexual harassment through their career life (Fiedler, Anne. & Blanco, Ivan, 2006).
Nevertheless, different countries have different mechanisms for resolving the problem of work place discrimination especially on sexual grounds. Shan’t we use this experience for the personal practice in order to develop certain preventive measures rather then solve endless cases in the court, which need lots of time and money? Senator, how do you personally feel about that, whether you agree to such practice?
Companies are also encouraged to enforce policies that will govern interaction among employees and between employees and their supervisors, defining the proper complaint mechanisms for employees who have been harassed sexually (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2002). However, despite the presence of laws against sexual harassment, employees continue to experience this kind of discrimination. The status of sexual harassment at workplace today could hardly be referred as adequate.
Employees in some sectors of the economy are at a higher risk of sexual harassment than others. It is also evident that most of sexual harassment perpetuators are those holding high positions within the organisation (Ilies, Hauserman, Schwochau & Stibal, 2003). This means that most subordinate and reporting employees are at a danger of being discriminated sexually by their bosses and supervisors. In such cases, it may be difficult for employees to launch claims and this behavior may lead to unwillful resignation. If the victim rejects sexual advances from the boss, this may result in unfair dismissal of the worker concerned (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2002).
Though male and female workers are both vulnerable to sexual harassment, it has been established that female workers are at a greater risk than their male counterparts (Fiedler & Blanco, 2006). However, the problem is that most of those who are harassed are ignorant about the nature of sexual harassment. Most female victims find it difficult to label some behaviors as sexual harassment, and this reduces the chances of reporting or taking the necessary action (Ilies, Hauserman, Schwochau & Stibal, 2003).
Further, it is often impossible to give substantive evidence to prove that a worker was harassed sexually, unless in cases where the proovocation was in writing or any other recorded form. In addition, people have different perceptions regarding which behaviors can be termed as sexually discriminative and this also affects the way different workers relate with each other. This makes it hard for human resource managers to handle sexual harassment at work place, and therefore the victims continues to suffer in silence (Fiedler & Blanco, 2006).
Sexual harassment can pose major psychological problems on workers, leading to poor performance (Ilies, Remus, Hauserman, Nancy et al, 2003). This undoubtedly negatively impact the whole nation, increasing suicide and depression cases. On the other hand, lack of proper policies on sexual discrimination can put the lives of employees at danger. The overall effect of sexual harassment at work place is felt at organizational level, because it has a general adverse impact on overall performance (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2002).
It is therefore imperative to examine the status of sexual harassment around the globe in order to offer a framework that will help address sexual harassment in high risk work environments.
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