Workplace Harassment of Women

Understanding what sexual harassment of women is, and how to prevent it

Sexual harassment of women in the workplace has received increasing attention since the early 1980s, but is still sometimes poorly understood. Gender harassment in the workplace can create an environment where employees feel more like adversaries than colleagues. Productivity ultimately suffers, and even employees who are not harassed may feel threatened in their own workplace.

A clearly defined sexual harassment policy, along with ongoing training for employees, can help prevent problems and keep your team working together instead of against each other.

What constitutes discrimination and harassment against women in the workplace?
  1. Unwanted sexual advances
  2. Asking for sexual favors
  3. Verbal or physical conduct or other harassment of women that is sexual in nature

Know the laws regarding discrimination and harassment against women in the workplace

There's some confusion about where the line is between teasing and workplace harassment. However, there are laws governing what constitutes harassment, and understanding these is the first step in preventing problems. Victims may not know their rights, and think they'll be reprimanded, demoted or even lose their job if they report discrimination or harassment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual discrimination. Or, you can purchase TrainingTime's guide to federal employment laws on discrimination.

Understand the facts about sexual harassment of women

There's a lot of misunderstanding about workplace harassment. Some people think it only happens to women, or that it's only initiated by members of the opposite sex. And victims may think it's only harassment if it's physical, or if it comes from a superior. Fortunately, there are considerable sexual harassment resources in print and online.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission feature fact sheets about sexual harassment of women in the workplace. Or, teach your employees what constitutes workplace harassment of women through the Emmy Award winning training video "Sex, Power and the Workplace."

Seek expert guidance on workplace harassment of women

Enlisting the aid of a legal expert or consultant knowledgeable about gender harassment information can help you better comply with the laws, and create an environment where all employees feel included and valued. These experts can assist in drafting sexual harassment policies, addressing specific instances of sexual harassment, or changing your corporate culture.

Institute sexual harassment training

Including sexual harassment information and education as a standard part of employee training can help prevent discrimination or harassment of women from ever occurring, and can ensure that all employees follow the same procedures. And, the training sends a clear message that your company values diversity, and will not tolerate an environment where any employee feels threatened.
  • Make it clear that sexual harassment of women is against company policy, and make employees feel safe reporting harassment. It's estimated that nearly half of women experience harassment in the workplace, but that only between 5 and 15 percent report it. Establish a formal process through which they can report incidents, and they may be more likely to ask for help, rather than just leave the company.