Personnel Review

Emerald Article: Reviewing sexual harassment in the workplace - an intervention model C.M. Hunt, M.J. Davidson, S.L. Fielden, H. Hoel

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To cite this document: C.M. Hunt, M.J. Davidson, S.L. Fielden, H. Hoel, (2010),"Reviewing sexual harassment in the workplace - an intervention model", Personnel Review, Vol. 39 Iss: 5 pp. 655 - 673 Permanent link to this document: Downloaded on: 30-04-2012 References: This document contains references to 82 other documents To copy this document: This document has been downloaded 1817 times.

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Reviewing sexual harassment in the workplace – an intervention model
C.M. Hunt, M.J. Davidson, S.L. Fielden and H. Hoel
The Centre for Diversity and Equality at Work, Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
Purpose – The purpose of this literature review is to provide an intervention model, which can be used by organisations to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment has been somewhat ignored over recent years, with much of the academic literature focusing on harassment specifically on workplace bullying, or psychological harassment of a generic nature. For the purpose of this review, the authors have specifically reviewed individual and organisational antecedents, particularly focusing on the organisation’s culture and training programmes. Design/methodology/approach – A review of the sexual harassment literature has been conducted to examine primary, secondary and tertiary interventions to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Findings – There are a variety of antecedents of sexual harassment which can be examined; these cover three main categories: groups and individuals; organisational and situational; and societal. Sexual harassment should be seen as an issue which needs to be addressed by the organisation, rather than simply increasing and improving an individual’s skills in order to deal with harassment (Fitzgerald and Shullman). Originality/value – This paper provides an up-to-date review of the sexual harassment literature and from this provides a model, which organisations can utilise when attempting to tackle the problem of sexual harassment. Keywords Sexual harassment, Best practice, United Kingdom Paper type Literature review

Sexual harassment in the workplace 655
Received January 2007 Revised January 2007 Accepted January 2010

Introduction The majority of sexual harassment literature appears to have been published in the 1990s, with less being published in recent years. The emergence of the term “sexual harassment” can be traced back to the mid 1970s in North America, however, in the UK, the first successful case when sexual harassment was argued to be a form of sex discrimination was in 1986, which was under the Employment Protection Act (Hodges Aeberhard, 2001). Sexual harassment can be defined as “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of women and men at work which include physical verbal and non verbal conduct” (Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), 2005). The aim of this paper is to present a review of the sexual harassment literature[1], culminating in an intervention model for organisations to combat sexual harassment in the workplace (see Figure 1). First, sexual harassment will be defined and the scale of harassment in organisations will be examined, providing information from incidence surveys. In order to formulate an intervention model it is necessary to understand the

Personnel Review Vol. 39 No. 5, 2010 pp. 655-673 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0048-3486 DOI 10.1108/00483481011064190

primary. the paper will examine three levels of intervention.5 656 Figure 1. secondary and tertiary. looking specifically at organisational culture. a review of organisational antecedents of sexual harassment will be provided. This act defines sexual . Therefore. and examine solutions. which have been adopted by organisations. Sexual harassment: intervention model antecedents of sexual harassment and to examine how and why harassment occurs in some workplace situations and not in others. In addition. Defining sexual harassment In the UK in 2005. so as to provide a holistic perspective to the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. the Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations were amended to cover sexual harassment – workplace behaviour that is often difficult to prove and until now has been largely undefined in the UK.PR 39.

.936 employees across Great Britain. this relates to where an individual will explicitly or implicitly makes sexual requests and /or advances as an exchange for some desired result. either in terms of behaviour or the circumstances in which it occurs (Bimrose. Researchers have also highlighted a number of psychological dimensions to sexual harassment. degrading. Estimates regarding the incidence of sexual harassment vary. 1995).harassment as unwanted conduct (verbal. 1999) multi country study. In contrast. for example a promotion. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) (2005) have conducted Britain’s first large scale survey examining unfair treatment. 2006). may be seen as more effective in terms of gaining an in-depth understanding of the experiences of victims of sexual harassment. Rutherford et al. such data collection techniques may in fact produce unreliable results because of respondents’ reluctance to disclose such information face-to-face (Watts and Zimmerman. Fitzgerald et al. and the various methodologies used by researchers. humiliating or offensive environment[2]. 1997). 2002). The first is usually defined as “quid pro quo”. Differences regarding the definition of sexual harassment. 1995. bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace (Grainger and Fitzner. these are: gender harassment. this is often the case as this form of sexual harassment is viewed as more subtle and is often termed the “grey area” (Smolensky and Kleiner. The subject of hostile environments is a source of much debate.. found that the percentage of women who were reporting sexual abuse before the age of 15 in a face-to-face interview almost doubled when women were able to report their experiences anonymously. The survey found that few employees had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last two years: less than one in every 100 (0. p. 1991. 1995. perceived discrimination. such as interviews. hostile. there appears to be a lack of consensus regarding the definition of sexual harassment. which can be defined as a “hostile environment”. this refers to sex-related behaviours which make the victim feel uncomfortable. Stockdale and Hope. will ultimately have a significant impact on the levels of sexual harassment reported. Alternatively. between November 2005 and January 2006. A World Health Organisation (WHO) (Heise et al. non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature) that has the purpose or effect of violating her/his dignity and/or of creating an intimidating. particularly when examining the behaviours and the circumstances in which sexual harassment occurs (Bimrose. The survey involved face-to-face interviews with 3. research into the actual methodologies used in sexual harassment studies would be extremely useful. Fitzgerald and Ormerod.. Furthermore. 2006. there is sexual harassment. While qualitative methodologies. Thus. almost four per cent of employees stated that they were aware of another person at their workplace who had experienced sexual harassment in the last Sexual harassment in the workplace 657 . which examined women’s health and domestic violence. There is no one definition of sexual harassment. 2004.. Fitzgerald et al. it is important to understand what constitutes sexual harassment. Nevertheless. and thus producing a hostile work environment. The term sexual harassment is generally accepted as representing two types of behaviour. 2003.9 per cent). 2006). unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion (Fitzgerald et al. Stockdale and Hope. 1997). 1991. Fitzgerald and Ormerod. The way in which surveys ask respondents about sexual harassment and the methods used to collect data can have a profound impact on the findings (Grainger and Fitzner.. 2004. 60).

PR 39. Furthermore. it is difficult to determine whether sexual harassment polices and procedures are. Worryingly. Moreover. two fifths (41 per cent) of British employees who stated that they had been sexually harassed were men. Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) suggest that of individuals who actually start tribunal proceedings. Without knowing the true extent of the problem in the workplace. Nearly all (92 per cent) of public sector organisations had a monitoring procedure. The wide variation in sexual harassment incidence data highlights the importance of conducting more research in this area. examined how sexual harassment policies work in practice and the outcomes following complaints. in fact. Encouragingly. and 2 per cent who do not see it as a problem at all. One must also consider that the number of complaints. compared with just 17 per cent who viewed sexual harassment as a “major problem”. However. presents only a fraction of the sexual harassment experienced in the UK. when examining this in more detail. particularly when complaints are dealt with informally. The Equal Opportunities Review (EOR) (2002) survey of 112 organisations. The survey found that almost seven in ten employers consider sexual harassment to be a “fairly important problem for employers”. or long-term illness and they were five times more likely to have experienced sexual harassment than employees without a disability (Grainger and Fitzner. effective. seventy seven per cent of organisations in the Equal Opportunities Review survey (2002) did have some form of monitoring procedure in place. there is a scarcity of research relating to the sexual harassment of men in the workplace and there is a need for further in-depth research in this area. Furthermore. it appears that there is a substantial variation between public and private organisations. figures produced by the Advisory. A number of European surveys have found that between 40 per cent and 90 per cent of women questioned have suffered some form of sexual harassment during their working lives (European Commission. However. Indeed. A major contributing factor to there being such a variance in sexual harassment incidence figures is that it is often difficult for organisations to monitor harassment. identification and prevalence rates of sexual harassment remain problematic due to differential methodologies and a lack of formal monitoring. which are registered. one of the most vulnerable groups was found to be employees with a disability. 2006). This highlights the problem of self-reporting and sexual harassment incidence figures. while just over half (54 per cent) of private sector organisations carried out monitoring (Equal Opportunities Review (EOR). Women had a higher incidence of sexual harassment (1. less than 10 per cent reach formal hearing proceedings (Equal Opportunities Review (EOR). 2002). 1998). The variance in reported figures is not only a problem in the UK. Situational/organizational antecedents of sexual harassment It is being increasingly recognised that some work situations appear to be associated with increased incidents of sexual harassment and it has been suggested that sexual . although specific legislation exists with regard to sexual harassment in the workplace.7 per cent).5 658 two years. Less than one fifth stated that the sexual harassment was still going on. the Industrial Society found that only five per cent of individuals facing sexual harassment at work ever made a formal complaint against their harasser. 2002).1 per cent) than men (0. In summary. interpretations as to what this means in specific behavioural terms vary.

. 1998). (1993. 1994. the power may be formal i. 1985). 2001). this will help to address actions. Pryor et al. The Person X Situation interaction would dictate that men who are likely to sexually harass usually only behave in that way when there are circumstances where the social norms actually permit that form of behaviour. 1988). 1994). In these careers. As many organisations tend Sexual harassment in the workplace 659 . or informal i. Pryor et al. (1993) suggest that a combination of personal factors (e. p. For example. sexual harassment is in fact more likely to occur in that organisation (Haavio-Mannila et al. status. 2003). experience.harassment is more prevalent in occupations which are male dominated (European Commission. status. self-esteem and experience) and situational factors (e. However. Sexual harassment appears to be more likely in situations where there is a substantial power difference between men and women. Pryor et al. 1993). Perry (1983) found that sexual harassers could often have reputations for exhibiting sexually exploitative behaviour. Vartia. which may be perpetuating uncivil behaviours.e.. opportunity) contribute to repeated sexually harassing behaviour. Einarsen et al. 1998. Two types of leadership style have been associated with harassment and bullying – an authoritarian and a laissez faire style (O’Moore.g. if the organisation appears to tolerate sexual behaviour. permissive culture.. Leadership styles within an organisation may also have an impact on the scale of bullying and harassment. the dominant gender’s sex role will “spill over” the role expectation of the job (Gutek. A change in management has also been seen to be an antecedent of sexual harassment in organisations (HSA (Health and Safety Authority. When the sex ratio of the organisation is skewed. Kohlman (2004) found that sexual harassment is prevalent whether men or women dominate the occupation. 1998) and power is an extremely important issue to focus on when discussing situational and organisational factors. Di Martino et al. Sex role spill over is defined as the carrying over of gender based expectation regarding certain behaviours that are seen as inappropriate in the workplace (Fitzgerald and Shullman.. A framework for understanding the causes and precursors of sexual harassment and sexually harassing behaviour has been termed the Person X Situation Analysis. which would suggest that the gender of the victim is not a causal effect..e. Sexual harassment tends to be prevalent in organisations where there are increased power differentials between men and women (Veale and Gold. When examining organisational antecedents of sexual harassment it is imperative to examine the organisational culture. 2003). Gutek (1985) suggest that sexual harassment is more likely to be apparent in highly sexualised settings and work environments. Job insecurity can be seen as an additional antecedent of sexual harassment. 1996.g. being either male or female dominated.. Ireland). 1995) and in organisations with certain characteristics. attitudes towards women. Sexual harassment has been shown to be prevalent in certain social situations (Dekker and Barling. This is increasingly the case for careers where female employees have gradually improved their position and status in relation to their male counterparts. 73) state that “personality and attitudinal factors may importantly contribute to sexually harassing behaviour”. 2000. Power differentials are likely to have an impact on all forms of psychological violence. instances of sexual harassment may in fact be the result of exclusionary behaviour by male colleagues (Di Martino et al. as job insecurity can be based on the power of managers over subordinates which may be ¨ used to exert influence (Bjorkqvist et al.

through a variety of stages. the organisation and the employees have certain characteristics which have the potential of merging together to create an unhealthy organisation. While sexual harassment can be seen as an isolated incident. and is not. At this point. acceptable in the workplace (Thomas. examination of how and why certain leadership styles lead to an increase in bullying and sexual harassment would be useful. p. It is also important to ensure broad involvement in . The US Equal Employment Commission (2003) states “prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace”. p. 2006). However. whereby sexual harassment is embedded in the culture of the organisation. which permeates the whole organisational culture (Dougherty and Smythe. however this area of study remains underdeveloped (Wood. p. Cardiovascular disease has multiple causes and develops gradually over time. preventing problems from developing (Quick. 2004).5 660 to adopt either of these styles. it is essential to implement policies and initiatives before the problem develops. which aims to show intolerance of sexual harassment. Without the adoption of preventive measures such risk factors could lead to low-level harassment. what Bell et al. if the organisation has failed to implement preventive measures. “empirical research documenting the efficacy of sexual harassment policies preventing or reducing sexual harassment is scarce” (Bell et al. 16) define as the “advanced stages of sexual harassment”. Bell et al. Bell et al. 2002.. rape or assault. such as inappropriate jokes or touching. it is also much easier to discuss the issues of sexual harassment at this stage. it can also be one. such as leadership styles and the culture of the organisation. Taking a consultative approach in the establishment and implementation of policies is a positive step. (2002. 2004). gender ratios and the overarching culture of the organisation before they attempt to implement a sexual harassment policy or initiative. using the well-known health problem of cardiovascular disease to illustrate this. Equally. 161). 2004). which also has multiple antecedents and can develop through a number of stages over time. It may be useful for organisations to examine their leadership styles. 162) advocate the importance of a strong organisational culture. When examining organisational and situational antecedents of sexual harassment it is important to examine various organisational factors. for example unequal gender ratios and high power differentials between male and female employees. sexual harassment is a well-known problem. 2000). (2002) discuss the potential of using a preventive health model when addressing sexual harassment. social and cultural settings when discussing the issue of sexual harassment (Handy. 1999). as is ensuring that there is a common view of harassment so that all employees know what is. (2002. The harassment may escalate to sexual coercion. One must also consider the individual. An organisation may have risk factors or precursors. which can be defined as the primary stage.PR 39. The EEOC argues that the best way to prevent sexual harassment is by communicating to all employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in the workplace and thus ensuring that the organisation’s culture supports this (Dougherty and Smythe. Organisations need to ensure that they actively promote their policies throughout the organisational hierarchy (Keily and Henbest. Primary intervention Policies and training Primary interventions or preventive measures aim to address the root cause of the problem. 1992). When taking a preventive management perspective.

. following an incident. Furthermore. Therefore. A formal sexual harassment policy can help to set behavioural guidelines. training should raise awareness and clarify any misconceptions regarding sexual harassment and inform management of their roles and responsibilities if it is to be successful (York et al. rather than from direct experience. Byers and Rue (1991. and regular training (see Figure 1). 1995). it is important for organisations to implement policies. Policies which are based on protectionist ideals can lead to increasing sex segregation and prohibition of all relationships. pp. 206) state. However. “training must be directed toward the accomplishment of some organisational goal”. (2002). Despite the importance of implementation of policies and procedures. which adopt a proactive approach. advocate the use of organisational assessments. right through the organisational hierarchy. who might otherwise exercise their discretion in making subjective judgments regarding the severity of a given offense. It is essential that a zero tolerance perspective is communicated to and understood by all employees (Thomas. . as employees should learn to avoid sexual harassment by training (indirect means). are compelled to impose a pre-determined punishment regardless of individual culpability or “extenuating circumstances”). Another method of learning is called “modelling” experiences. which are based on empowerment. Licata and Popovich (1987. 2003). which potential harassers may be deterred by and may encourage potential victims of sexual harassment to report harassment (Gruber and Smith.the process. Takeyama and Kleiner (1998) suggest that case studies may then be used to conduct role-playing where participants are able to practice their interpersonal skills in a variety of challenging situations.. 1993). policies alone are not necessarily sufficient to deal effectively with sexual harassment. Bell et al. . Workplaces with explicit policies on sexual harassment and those. This is particularly pertinent. encouraging the resistance of sexual harassment through the formal support of victims and the unconditional punishment of perpetrators. Laabs.e. rather than through forms of punishment. also. They go on to assert that when role negotiation techniques are used as part of a sexual harassment training programme. even those which are consensual (Zippel. 35-6) describe role negotiation as a technique. In addition to case studies. Licata and Popovich (1987) examined the possibility of using role theory as a framework for understanding sexual harassment problems and using role negotiation techniques as a way of resolving work conflicts. persons in positions of authority.] can open the channels of communication and provide participants with an opportunity to state their expectations of their supervisors and co-workers. 1995). 2004) (i. there is a lack of empirical studies to show how and why effective implementation is vital to the success of an anti-harassment policy (Bagihole and Woodward. Sexual harassment in the workplace 661 While the work of Licata and Popovich (1987) was conducted two decades ago. the role negotiation technique has some useful ideas for organisations to consider in the design . p. tend to have fewer problems with sexual harassment (Pryor et al. organisations can also employ role negotiation techniques. 1997. which requires each group member to examine and state their own roles as well as the role expectations of other individuals in the group. they: [. Case studies can be an effective method to employ in training programmes. 1995). where individuals learn through observation.

Wexley and Latham. 1993). Although it does have limitations. with much of it originating from organisations in the United States (Howard. when compared with men. it is important to examine how employees’ views regarding sexually harassing behaviour change over time. Barak. video/DVD based training. The key to the bottom up approach is for complete involvement and ownership of the policies and programmes which are developed. board games. The study found that women were significantly more likely to consider that unwanted sexual behaviours could be constituted as sexual harassment. 2005). role plays. Studies have also investigated the effectiveness of workshops and training videos and found that they can be successful for informing individuals of sexually harassing behaviours and attempting to combat the problem of sexual harassment (York et al. sensitivity training and lectures (Arthur and Doverspike.5 662 of anti harassment programmes. Furthermore. Training effectiveness Deadrick et al. Training can be an effective method to employ at the primary intervention stage and can include such methods as internet-based training. Beauvais. when compared with women and younger workers. Training can be used to inform staff of sexual harassment and can help to equip individuals with the necessary skills to deal with sexual harassment if it occurs (see Figure 1). group discussion. More . 1996. This is particularly interesting considering women and younger workers are usually those who are more likely to be exposed to sexual harassment. when compared with a co-worker. 1997. There also appeared to be a tendency for individuals with higher levels of education at relatively higher grades and those who were divorced. and evaluation of change effectiveness.. employee learning and development. behaviour and norms within the organisation.PR 39. yet there appears to be an absence of empirical investigations evaluating the effectiveness of training programmes (Arthur and Doverspike. When discussing the effectiveness of sexual harassment training programmes. there is a dearth of research evaluating the outcomes of sexual harassment training initiatives and programmes (Fitzgerald and Shullman. was sexual harassment. women and men were more likely to consider that unwanted sexual behaviour. The study found that on average men and older workers were more likely to perceive training as effective. 1991). 2003). 1986). A bottom up approach to training and policy design. 2005. which focuses on “unfreezing” the established beliefs. to perceive the training as less effective. Beauvais (1986) found that respondent’s awareness and sensitivity regarding the issue of sexual harassment increased following training workshops. may be effective in establishing commitment throughout the organisational hierarchy (Deadrick et al. Organisations need to base their change process on a three-step model: problem recognition.. if it was initiated by a supervisor. 1994. depending on the hierarchical nature of the organisation. 68). p.. (1996) conclude that evaluating change throughout the organisation is imperative when implementing a change process. 2002). One of the few studies to investigate effectiveness examined what factors were likely to influence a government worker’s perception of the effectiveness of sexual harassment training (Newman et al. A study by Antecol and Cobb-Clark (2003) analysed the relationship between sexual harassment training and employees’ views about what behaviours actually constituted sexually harassing behaviour. Although there appears to be descriptive literature discussing sexual harassment training interventions.

than three in four of the employees reported that they had attended some form of sexual harassment training at some time during the previous 12 months. Some may argue that an organisation. conveying the message that this form of behaviour is unacceptable and that it will not be tolerated in any form. rather than linear approach i. Respondents were asked to rate whether it was sexual harassment for a supervisor to ask an employee to have sex with them and then promise to help them with their job prospects. which has a high incident rate of sexual harassment. It appears that a multi method approach to sexual harassment training can be effective in reducing the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace. For example. The majority of respondents stated that training had increased their sensitivity regarding the issue of sexual harassment. However. Case studies. For organisations to establish effective complaints procedures it is important to understand the victims’ responses to sexual harassment and how victims cope with sexually harassing behaviours and filing complaints. as those without a network. a pilot study by Icengole et al. as such. for example ensuring that an effective complaints procedure is in place (see Figure 1). However. Secondary interventions This stage refers to how an organisation responds when faced with sexual harassment. empowers and enables individuals to report cases of sexual harassment. despite the success of some training methods in increasing knowledge and changing attitudes towards sexual harassment. the long-term impact of such training has yet to be established. However. to have five or more cases reported to them over a period of one year. (2002) found that male respondents tended to report more accurate perceptions of sexual harassment behaviours by both supervisory and co-workers. or that they were more aware of the feelings of other individuals in the workplace. Thomas (2004) found that universities which had a more “consultative” approach and ensured that there was an informal “network” of advisers available for employees. (1997) established a Sexual harassment in the workplace 663 . stated that is “never” or “hardly ever” sexual harassment for a supervisor to ask an employee on a date with the promise that it will help the employee with job prospects (Icengole et al. this bottom up approach is not sufficient if sexual harassment is to be successful eliminated from organisations. The resulting secondary interventions that arise from this top down approach are discussed in the following. Furthermore.. “modelling” experiences and group discussion are just some of the techniques which can be employed to raise awareness. rather than it being hidden within the organisation.e. compared with 19 pe cent of female respondents. Furthermore. 2002). Knapp et al. it may show that the organisation has employed an effective method of dealing with harassment and. research-examining perceptions of what constitutes sexual harassment has shown different results. had higher reporting rates. is an unhealthy organisation with ineffective policies. than women. filing complaint with line manager. Six per cent of male respondents and 16 per cent of the female respondents believed that this behaviour was “never” or “hardly ever” sexual harassment. 10 per cent of male respondents. with studies relying on immediate reactions to training rather than on real changes to attitudes and behaviour. This study raises the issue of incidence rates. A top down approach is a vital aspect in dealing with sexual harassment. role negotiation techniques. Furthermore. universities who employed a “network” approach were nearly twice as likely.

PR 39. Hulin et al... however a target of sexual harassment may have doubts whether their complaint will be taken seriously and if the organisational polices and procedures will be able to support them (Firestone and Harris. Sigal et al.g. (1997). The decision of whether or not to report sexual harassment can be a complex one. confronting the problem. Wilkinson and Campbell (1997. Mann and Guadagno’s (1999) found that when a victim reported harassing behaviour in an academic setting they were then perceived as “less feminine and likeable” and “less trustworthy” than a victim who did not report the sexual harassment. In contrast. 1996. Harris and Firestone. Rutherford et al. Formal responses to sexual harassment tend to include institutional procedures. although the efficacy of these approaches depend on a number of circumstances. The majority of informal responses to sexual harassment include individual attempts by the victim of sexual harassment to confront the harasser (Firestone and Harris. denial. 209) found that emotionally focused coping strategies. (2003). There are both formal and informal responses to sexual harassment.5 664 typology on an analysis of the existing literature and combined Gruber’s (1989) categorizations to formulate a two-by-two typology of responses to sexual harassment. such as work/group characteristics. e. Moreover. a multicultural sample from a medium sized New York University and a black sample from a historically black university. which is sympathetic and supportive to the victim. (1997) believe that supported responses are more effective when dealing with harassment and state that confrontation. which used two samples. Knapp et al. External coping strategies have been found to be associated with negative psychological outcomes. These contrasting findings highlight the importance of conducting further research to examine different coping strategies. However. Rowe. (2003) investigated the effects of victims’ coping responses and the type of setting on students’ reactions to a sexual harassment scenario and found that active coping strategies are effective methods of dealing with sexual harassment. are less effective than problem-focused strategies. 2003). 1997). (2006) found . organisations should also strive to create a climate. i. 1993. (2003) concluded that rather than focusing totally on the creation of policies and training and counselling. changing jobs. one must consider how sexual harassment is defined (Sigal et al. supports the typology defined by Knapp et al. In this case. i. p. Examining the complaints procedure in the UK Ministry of Defence. and even those that do may not be widely known to employees. to experience negative perceptions of their working environment and have poorer employment outcomes. negative assumptions of the victim were not held when active coping responses were used. Nevertheless. while the scenarios in Sigal’s (2003) study used more overt sexual harassment and the professor/supervisor used a variety of coercive approaches. who found that women who used confrontational strategies when coping with sexual harassment were more likely than women who used passive coping strategies.e.e. Not all organisations have a clear sexual harassment policy or procedure for handling complaints. power relations and individual characteristics. 2003. formal channels within the organisation may be utilised. which is hostile to any form of sexual harassment and one. Sigal et al. This is also supported by Stockdale (1998). A study by Sigal et al. 2003. Bingham and Scherer. Mann and Guadagno (1999) included touching of the victim by a professor and a veiled threat in their scenario. negotiation and advocacy seeking are all ways in which a victim can effectively confront the problem of sexual harassment. 1996).

. with sixty-four per cent considering leaving the Services (Rutherford et al.that only five per cent of survey respondents who had suffered a “particularly upsetting” experience actually made a formal written complaint. feeling that nothing would be done about it (39 per cent). wanting to handle the situation themselves (67 per cent). as the majority of victims filing a complaint had lost their job by the time of the hearing. Some felt that they were made out to be the one at fault: “My harasser was treated with sympathy while I was ostracized and yelled at”. or were sacked or forced to resign. Earnshaw and Davidson (1994) found that tribunals are limited in their effectiveness. Moreover. This type of support is rare and there is absence of empirical research examining tertiary interventions in sexual harassment programmes. or feeling they would not be believed (19 per cent). In addition. women may also fear that there will be an unfavourable outcome from reporting sexual harassment. the primary concern of tertiary interventions is for the victim. or were told not to take the harassment seriously.. The main aim of the centre was to be a refuge for victims and was operated by a female psychotherapist and a social worker. Austria (Bukowska and Schnepf. The interventions provided by the centre mainly focused on debriefing and psychosocial counselling. 2003). Over half of the respondents who had made a formal complaint stated that there had been negative consequences as a result of filing a complaint. Reasons for not filing a complaint were similar to why respondents were not willing to tell anyone about their experience. which was used to look at any areas.e. Therefore the victim may experience a range of different emotions throughout these events (Ware Bolagh et al. 2003). (2003) illustrate a case study where an advice centre was established to help support victims of sexual harassment in the University of Vienna. It is evident from these studies that the decision of whether or not to report sexual harassment is a complex one. 2006). . support and legal advice. rather than one isolated incident. fear of the complaint having a negative impact on their career (35 per cent). i. Nearly half of the respondents who had made a formal complaint were dissatisfied with the length of time it took to resolve the issue. Furthermore. fear of being labelled a troublemaker (39 per cent). bullying continued. Sexual harassment in the workplace 665 Tertiary interventions Once sexual harassment has occurred. This is further intensified when considering that sexual harassment is often a continuous set of events.. 8 per cent did not know how to make a complaint. The work at the centre was also evaluated on an ongoing basis. Other respondents reported that they were on long-term sick leave or that although the sexual harassment had stopped. over 90 per cent of applicants in an Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) survey (2000) were either “not very satisfied” or “not at all satisfied” with the way in which their complaint was handled in the workplace. Rehabilitative procedures should ensure that the victims and/or any other individual’s working lives are returned to normal as quickly and effectively as possible (Di Martino et al. Over half of survey respondents stated that they had left the employment where the harassment occurred. Di Martino et al. Of the respondents who had a “particularly upsetting” experience. 2001). which needed changing or improving.

for example: developing a clear policy for preventing and tackling sexual harassment. 1999). which needed to be addressed. Independent support for victims was provided through the establishment of a network of trained harassment advisors. adopting a complaints and investigations procedure for dealing informally and formally with sexual harassment. implementing. provide independent support for victims. and contact points for those who have experienced bullying or harassment. London Underground was awarded the prestigious “Opportunity Now Public Sector” award for its wide-ranging Ending Harassment Programme. Expertise was also increased through the establishment of a network of managers who were accredited for dealing with harassment and who could deal with formal complaints. an effective procedure for dealing with harassment. In May 2002. with increased levels of absenteeism. Victims had problems complaining about harassment and managers were ineffective in terms of skills to help them to deal with any complaints. as part of a larger survey of working life. the company conducted a series of think tanks. monitoring policy implementation. A new workplace harassment policy was issued to all members of staff. a study in the Nursing Times (McMillan. including union representatives. the guideline provided a number of checklists. effective training for all employees. In response to this wide-ranging problem. The document offers guidelines which organisations can use and best practice principles when dealing with issues of bullying and harassment. visible commitment and support from senior staff. This had a negative impact on the organisation. midwives and health visitors were being subjected to sexual harassment. being aware of how the law applies to sexual harassment and employer liability. The study was conducted in 1996. treating sexual harassment as a health and safety issue. The NHS in Scotland (2005) produced a document entitled “Dignity at work: eliminating bullying and harassment in the workplace”. ensure increased levels of expertise for all those dealing with harassment cases. which was aimed at tackling each area identified through the consultation exercise. which involved the measurement of workplace bullying within a NHS Community Trust showed the different effects which bullying can have on staff. the need for: an open and trusting culture. and evaluating their bullying. The NHS Scotland (2005) guideline illustrates a number of issues of importance. During the previous year a total of 335 days were reported lost as a result of bullying experienced. These sessions included brainstorming. Harassment was reported as a widespread problem for London Underground.PR 39. The programme was agreed in 1999 and its primary objectives were to: establish. The organisational culture was perceived to tolerate harassment. For example. Training was . More recently. a paper in the British Medical Journal (Quine. 1993) stated that ninety seven per cent of nurses. The guideline was produced after a range of evidence showed that bullying and harassment in the NHS was a problem. In addition. ensuring that all employees are aware of and understand the policy. and procedures. which organisations can use when designing. in partnership with trade unions.5 666 Practical solutions and intervention models The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) (2005) have illustrated a number of ways in which sexual harassment can be prevented. and harassment policies. clearly defined policies which need to be established in partnership with all staff. For example. establish an effective monitoring system and success indicators and change the organisational culture to one where there was zero tolerance towards sexual harassment. which involved mixed groups of staff.

risk factors (for both female and male employees) and how to deal with sexual harassment should it occur (York et al. Furthermore.. Organisations also need to consider how employees cope with harassment and the most effective coping strategies to employ. 1998) and where there are increased power differentials between men and women (Veale and Gold. 2005.. Employees also require multiple method training. 1997). 2006). open communication and discussion can be an effective way of Sexual harassment in the workplace 667 . Dougherty and Smythe. thus it is difficult to ascertain the true scale of this problem. It is also important to ensure there is open communication and debriefing throughout the design and implementation of policies and procedures to ensure there is commitment throughout the organisational hierarchy (NHS Scotland. 2004. The model covers primary. interactive DVD/video training etc. 2002. It is also important to note that organisational monitoring and assessment are essential throughout each stage. Moreover.. this could take the form of workshops. which needs to be addressed. Grainger and Fitzner. It is also evident that there are a variety of organisational antecedents of sexual harassment. Takeyama and Kleiner. and tertiary interventions. Trained advisors may be particularly important in cases where an employee is being sexually harassed by their line manager and therefore may find it difficult to register a complaint through the normal channels. an increase in the number of harassment of cases reported. At the secondary level of intervention. organisations need to design and monitor an effective complaints procedure. which can be used by organisations to combat the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. At the primary level. for example sexual harassment appears to be more prevalent with women as victims. 1996). Undoubtedly. which is intolerant of sexual harassment. an increase in the number of perpetrators of harassment being disciplined (Foster. organisations need to ensure that they have effective implementation of policies and procedures. Success indicators consisted of: an increase in the numbers employees seeking initial help from harassment advisors. 2002. secondary. To do this. Deadrick et al. Thomas. developing an organisational culture. Conclusion Sexual harassment is increasingly being seen as a management and leadership problem. 2005. 2004). Estimates regarding the incidence of sexual harassment vary (Equal Opportunities Review (EOR). Wexley and Latham. 2002). 1998). Figure 1 provides an intervention model based on our review of the current literature. in occupations which are male dominated (European Commission.. 1998). 2004). in order to equip staff with the necessary skills to deal with sexual harassment (Arthur and Doverspike. but particularly during the primary intervention phase to ensure that policies and procedures are implemented effectively (Bell et al. One way in which organisations can do this is through employing a network of trained advisors to handle complaints from staff (Thomas. case studies.also provided for human resource teams. is a vital step in tackling the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. Zippel. it is important to note that there appears to be an absence of empirical evidence examining the effectiveness of many of these strategies. Nevertheless. 2002. 2003). role plays. employees need to feel empowered and there needs to be commitment to a zero tolerance perspective throughout the organisational hierarchy (Bell et al. 2003. organisations should look to educate employees of the various meanings of sexual harassment.

International Journal of Selection and Assessment. pp. 1. R. 109-21. 2001). EOC Chair stated (Equal Opportunities Commission. Mahwah. this can be referred to as the rehabilitation stage. 1. 1997). Quick. the organisation must consider how rehabilitation and follow-up can be designed to support both the victim and the perpetrator and the organisation as a whole. Vol. 84 No. Taking a consultative and participatory approach can help to shape the organisational culture (Thomas. 130-45. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling. stress and conflict in the workplace are reduced. This article is based on a literature review commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission in. (Eds). 72 No. 2001) and ensure that there is a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and that negative behaviours do not become normalised throughout the organisation (Hearn and Parkin. (2003). Vol. (1995).PR 39. “Sexual harassment in the workplace: an ethical dilemma for career guidance practice?”. development and implementation of policies. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. morale and profitability are increased”. “Achieving diversity and reducing discrimination in the workplace through human resource management practices”. 16 No. Full details of the review can be found at: www. 595-603. Sickness References Antecol.S. pp. Staff retention. 826-42. 32 2. M. 1. and Colella. 4. . W. 305-27. C. 2006. Notes 1. (2004).5 668 examining the best forms of coping mechanisms for victims of sexual harassment (Stockdale. An investigation of sexual harassment of women academics in a UK university”.P. Discrimination at Work: The Psychological and Organizational Bases. 10 Nos 1/2. In the final analysis. 2004. J. Beauvais. Vol. efficiency. Lawrence Erlbaum. Bagihole. Vol. Vol. and Cobb-Clark. D. and Woodward. and Doverspike. “Does sexual harassment training change attitudes? A view from the federal level”. Knapp et al. For example. pp. J. procedures and training. (1994). 37-51.C. See www. While the organisation needs to consider effective strategies at each of these distinct stages. 2) “the benefits of tackling harassment can be substantial..eoc. 12 No. Bell. As Jenny Watson. it is important that the organisation ensures it takes a consultative approach in the design. (2002). pp. British Journal of Sociology of Education. in Dipboye. A. 6. our model advocates a proactive rather than a reactive strategy to sexual harassment polices and procedures. p. HSA (Health and Safety Authority. 1998. pp. 160-7. pp. “A cognitive-behavioural educational workshop to combat sexual harassment in the workplace”. NJ. D. (1986). Vol. Ireland).eoc. (2005). “Assessment and prevention of sexual harassment of employees: an applied guide to creating health organizations”. B. A. H. 2005). K. At this stage. and Cycyota. Social Science Quarterly. Counselling can be extremely effective at this point (Bukowska and Schnepf. organisations need to consider how employees are treated if sexual harassment occurs. “Workshops to combat sexual harassment: a case study of changing attitudes”. which need to be considered throughout each stage. 2006. “An occupational hazard warning: academic life can seriously damage out health. Barak. Journal of Counseling and Development. Finally. H. there are also factors. Bimrose.L..

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University of Manchester.About the authors C.M.emeraldinsight. C. Fielden is a Senior Lecturer of Organisational Psychology and co-director of the Centre for Diversity and Equality at Or visit our web site for further details: www. health care training and sexual harassment in the workplace. Quality Improvement Directorate. Hoel is a Senior Lecturer of Organisational Psychology Manchester Business School. violence and harassment: and he has also acted as advisor to the Norwegian government in its campaign against bullying in the workplace. Salford Royal. University of Manchester. University of Manchester. UK.L. S. M. UK. sexual orientation and occupational stress. mentoring and coaching and ethnicity.J. Her research and consultancy interests are in diversity and equality issues in the work place. UK. including women entrepreneurs. Salford.hunt@srft. Manchester Business School. Davidson is Professor of Work Psychology and co-director of the Centre for Diversity and Equality at Work. including women in management. Her current research interests are coaching and women entrepreneurs. Sexual harassment in the workplace 673 To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight.nhs. Hunt is Research Associate. His research interests are in the area of bullying. Manchester Business School. Her research and consultancy interests are in diversity and equality issues in the work . Hunt is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: carianne. H. NHS Foundation Trust.

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