When it comes to workplace dynamics, certain organizational risk factors can raise the likelihood of sexual harassment occurring. By understanding these factors, organizations can create safer and more respectful environments for their employees.
The complex interplay of organizational structures, policies and cultures plays a key role in fostering or mitigating the risk of sexual harassment within the workplace.
1. Inadequate policies and training
A notable risk factor is the absence of comprehensive policies and effective training programs. Organizations that lack anti-harassment policies create an environment where inappropriate behavior may persist. Inadequate training further exacerbates this issue. Employees may not have the knowledge and skills to identify, report and address instances of sexual harassment. Robust policies and regular training help dismantle the foundations that allow harassment to persist.
2. Power imbalances and organizational hierarchy
Organizational structures that perpetuate power imbalances are at risk for sexual harassment. Organizations must address these imbalances to ensure that reporting mechanisms remain accessible.
3. Tolerant organizational culture
Sexual harassment is also likely when organizations tolerate inappropriate behavior. When organizations fail to condemn harassment, they provide tacit approval for such behavior to persist. A culture of silence creates an environment where victims become reluctant to come forward. Eradicating this risk factor requires a concerted effort.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center notes that 38% of women and 14% of men have experienced workplace sexual harassment. Addressing the risk factors that contribute to sexual harassment is an important step toward prioritizing the well-being and dignity of all employees.