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Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani

K.K. Birla Goa Campus

Report On
Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

Prepared by: Nikita Prakash


Prepared for: The partial fulfilment of

BITS C 324 (Study Oriented Project)

Supervised by: Dr. Shikha Sahai

20 April 2011
This project discovers and describes the various ways of Sexual Harassment and Gender
Discrimination against women that are prevalent today in work places. It also highlights the reasons
behind these ongoing practices, the type of people that carry them out, the kind of workplaces
where they are more rampant and the people that are victimised by these. Another important
aspect that it covers will be on how to deal with the problem and how it can be minimised at

This project was chosen after hearing stories of discrimination that happen on a regular basis in IT
companies and consultancy firms in Hyderabad from women who work there. On reading more on
the issue it was found that more and more women are victims of this everyday and that almost 80%
of women have complained of having faced it in their workplace n a regular basis.

The information has been gathered from research papers on the topic, essays and articles on the
topic, forums where women have discussed these issues, firsthand accounts of women who have
been victims via interviews and emails, and a survey conducted of different kinds of women at
different kinds of work places. This has then been analysed and conclusions have been drawn based
on the research and data collection.

The report is the result of four months of research on Workplace Sexual Harassment. The report
shows that sexual harassment is a significant challenge for employees. It is evident from all sources
of study that sexual harassment in the workplace is high. Employees are being subjected to unsafe
work environments that can affect their emotional and physical health. The research also proves
employees were not aware of any sexual harassment policies in their workplace.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who helped me with their continuous
guidance and constant encouragement at all the stages throughout my work.

I would like to convey my deepest sense of gratitude to Dr. Shikha Sahai, my project supervisor and
mentor for her valuable advice, guidance and constant encouragement in making this project.

In the end, I would also like to extend my gratefulness to all the corporate professionals I have
interacted with over time and during the course of this project for their helpful insights and inputs
and for providing me with necessary resources.

And a special thanks to all the 91 respondents who devoted their time & energy to fill out the
questionnaire. Without their inputs, this project would not have been complete.

Nikita Prakash

ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................................................... ii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................................................................................... iii
CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................................................. iv
1. INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................................. 1
2. UNDERSTANDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT ...................................................................................................... 2
2.1. DEFINITION ............................................................................................................................................ 2
2.2. CAUSES .................................................................................................................................................. 3
2.3. TYPES OF HARASSERS ............................................................................................................................ 5
2.4. TYPICAL VICTIMS ................................................................................................................................... 6
2.5. CONSEQUENCES .................................................................................................................................... 7
The Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 ..................................................................................... 8

Some Salient Features of the bill: ........................................................................................................................................................... 9

Criticism of the bill: ............................................................................................................................................................................... 10

3. STUDY OF EXISTING LITERATURE ................................................................................................................. 12

3.1. SUMMARIES OF SOME OF THE REVIEWED PAPERS AND CASE STUDIES............................................. 12
4. CONCLUSIONS FROM STUDY OF EXISTING LITERATURE .............................................................................. 29
4.1. Relating Sexual Harassment with Bullying, Power Abuse and Organisational Violation. The Various
Forms of its Existence and Its Incidence: ......................................................................................................... 29
4.2. Characteristic Features of Sexual Harassment Occurrence: ............................................................... 30
4.3. Experiences of Sexual Harassment: Perceptions, Effects and Coping Strategies at Personal and
Organisational level:......................................................................................................................................... 30
4.4. Prevention and Intervention of Sexual Harassment ........................................................................... 31
5. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: SURVEY ........................................................................................................... 33
5.1. QUESTIONNAIRE ................................................................................................................................. 33
5.2. DATA COLLECTION: RESPONSES TO QUESTIONNAIRE ........................................................................ 38
Profile of the respondents: ................................................................................................................................................................... 38

Awareness towards Sexual Harassment: .............................................................................................................................................. 39

Sexually Harassed Respondents ........................................................................................................................................................... 40

Seeking Redress .................................................................................................................................................................................... 42

6. DATA ANALYSIS ............................................................................................................................................ 44

7. MEASURES TO BE TAKEN ............................................................................................................................. 47
8. END NOTES AND FUTURE RESEARCH ........................................................................................................... 51
9. BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................................................. 52

Of all the forms that violence against women can assume, sexual harassment is the most ubiquitous
and insidious; all the more so because it is deemed 'normal' behaviour and not an assault on the
female entity. It affects women in all settings whether public or private and has psychological,
medical, social, political, legal and economic implications. Instances of sexual harassment should not
be viewed as isolated incidents; rather they should be construed as a gendered aggression against
the rights and dignity of women. The fact the extremely harmful effects of Sexual Harassment are
visible globally discounts any effort to view it with less gravity than it deserves.

In India, it has been only six years since sexual harassment was for the first time recognised by The
Supreme Court as human rights violation and gender based systemic discrimination that affects
women’s Right to Life and Livelihood. The Court defined sexual harassment very clearly as well as
provided guidelines for employers to redress and prevent sexual harassment at workplace.

While the Apex Court has given mandatory guidelines, known as Vishaka Guidelines, for resolution
and prevention of sexual harassment enjoining employers by holding them responsible for providing
safe work environment for women, the issue still remains under carpets for most women and

Vishaka guidelines apply to both organized and unorganized work sectors and to all women whether
working part time, on contract or in voluntary/honorary capacity. The guidelines are a broad
framework which put a lot of emphasis on prevention and within which all appropriate preventive
measures can be adapted. One very important preventive measure is to adopt a sexual harassment
policy, which expressly prohibits sexual harassment at work place and provides effective grievance
procedure, which has provisions clearly laid down for prevention and for training the personnel at all
levels of employment.

As India’s economy continues to grow, helping millions of people live better and healthier lives, one
could be forgiven for thinking that the old problems that affected our parents and grandparents
generations are being left behind. You would expect to find this to be especially true in the modern
and dynamic workplaces of call centers and IT parks that are employing millions and helping drive
Indian economic growth. Unfortunately, while we have new industries and economic progress, old
problems have yet to be left behind.

Sexual harassment has been found to be rife within India’s modern work places. A study released
last year, of 600 female employees working in IT and BPO industries and the first of its kind, found
that 88% of women were subject to sexual harassment in their workplace, with supervisors often - in
over 70% of cases – being to blame. In an international survey of over 12,000 people in 24 countries,
India was found to have the highest rate of reports of workers being sexually harassed by colleagues
or supervisors. 25% also reported being assaulted at their place of work.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is an unwelcome or unwanted attention of a sexual nature from
someone at a work place that causes discomfort, humiliation, offence or distress, and / or interferes
with the job. This includes all such actions and practices of a sexual nature by a person or a group of
people directed at one or more workers.

According to The Supreme Court definition, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexually
determined behaviour, such as:-

 Physical contact
 A demand or request for sexual favours
 Sexually coloured remarks
 Showing pornography
 Any other physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual Harassment takes place if a person:

 Subjects another person to an unwelcome act of physical intimacy, like grabbing, brushing,
touching, pinching etc.
 Makes an unwelcome demand or request (whether directly or by implication) for sexual favours
from another person, and further makes it a condition for employment/payment of
wages/increment/promotion etc.
 Makes an unwelcome remark with sexual connotations, like sexually explicit
compliments/cracking inappropriate jokes with sexual connotations/ making sexist remarks etc.
 Shows a person any sexually explicit visual material, in the form of pictures/cartoons/pin-
ups/calendars/screen savers on computers/any offensive written material/pornographic e-mails,
 Engages in any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which could be verbal, or even
non-verbal, like staring to make the other person uncomfortable, making offensive gestures,
kissing sounds, etc.

The words ‘Unwelcome’ and ‘Unwanted’ are important and help distinguish sexual harassment from
other acts of similar nature in the work place.

Harassers need not only be employers or colleagues, but can also include clients and customers. E.g.,
an incident where an employee receives harassing SMSes from another colleague or client is
considered workplace harassment, even though those SMSes may not be sent at the physical
workplace, or during working hours. Similarly, sexual harassment that occurs on a person’s way to
and from work, or during a client interaction or work-related dinner or function is also considered
workplace sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo and hostile work environment are the two broad types of sexual harassment. 'Quid pro
quo', means seeking sexual favours or advances in exchange for work benefits and it occurs when
consent to sexually explicit behaviour or speech is made a condition for employment or refusal to

comply with a 'request' is met with retaliatory action such as dismissal, demotion, difficult work
conditions. 'Hostile working environment' is more pervasive form of sexual harassment involving
work conditions or behaviour that make the work environment 'hostile' for the woman to be in.
Certain sexist remarks, display of pornography or sexist/obscene graffiti, physical contact/brushing
against female employees are some examples of hostile work environment, which are not made
conditions for employment.

The main reason of sexual offence in corporations is the severe imbalance of power in between
supervisors and subordinates. The positions and the power give the supervisor the capacity to
reward and coerce subordinates, also valuate their performance, make recommendations for salary
adjustments and promotions and even decide whether or not an employee retains his/ her job. On
the other hand, subordinates want favourable performance reviews, salary increases and the like.

On the contrary, supervisors control resources that most subordinates consider important and
scarce. In some cases, top managers occupying high -status roles believe that sexually harassed
female subordinates are merely an extension of their right to make demands on lower status
individuals.” The difficulty with allegations of sexual harassment is proof. These allegations often
become one person’s word against another. As a result, it is believed that most offences go
unreported to company officials or government agencies

So, sexual harassment is the victim’s word against her boss. The harassed suffers from difficulty and
suppresses it in the cost of civil right. Most of the women do not want to litigate them. The reason of
suppressing harassment is the fear of economic insecurity and social isolation. Because of the
supervisor’s control over resources, the harassed are afraid of speaking out for fear of retaliation by
the supervisors.

The co-workers having no position and power can also influence the sexually harassed peers. The co-
workers also exercise some sort of power in order to sexually abuse female co-worker in the
organization. This power is developed by providing or withholding information, cooperation and
support. Work in organization is a team and hence performance of jobs requires interaction and
support from co-workers.

Women in positions of power can be subjected to sexual harassment from males who occupy less
powerful positions within the organization. This is usually achieved by the subordinates by devaluing
the women through highlighting traditional gender stereotype that reflect negatively on the women
in power.

In light of the reality highlighted above, some of the main causes for sexual harassment have been
covered in the points that follow. Many of the causes are interrelated, linked to the culture and
values in society and in companies, and to the roles, relative power and status of the men and
women concerned.

The way in which men and women were brought up to see themselves and others strongly
influences their behaviour. Various viewpoints could create a climate that allows sexual harassment:

In a culture where it is, or was until recently, "OK" to discriminate against people because they are
different (in terms of gender, race, culture, religion, lifestyle, political conviction or whatever), the
abuse of power or humiliation that is typical of sexual harassment will not be unusual. Harassment
is often closely linked to prejudice in general, and to sexist attitudes.

Men who were brought up with macho beliefs like which supported harassing women easily carry
these social values into the workplace, and treat their female colleagues accordingly. Such men
often even think that women take their harassment as a compliment.

Many women have been brought up to believe women's highest calling is to please men, that
popularity with men equals success. This can give the impression – usually unintended – and in turn
they invite sexual advances at work. Some women who see sexuality as their only power base, play
along. Although research has proven them to be a small minority, their behaviour can also
encourage harassment of other women.

If women see themselves as dependent on, or of lesser value than men, or are unassertive, they find
it difficult to handle harassers or to complain. Often women who are breadwinners are vulnerable
and fear victimisation or even job loss, if they reject advances or complain.

Power games
Recent social and political changes have changed power relations. Some men feel threatened by the
career advancement of women and people of colour, or are uncomfortable with women's new-
found independence and assertiveness at home and / or at work. Others who have recently gained
positions of power may also harass women subordinates to prove themselves. In times of
uncertainty, fear, limited promotion opportunities, retrenchments, personal stress and performance
pressure, there is a real danger that sexual harassment and trading of sexual favours will form part
of the power games played.

Moral values, divorce and cultural differences

In times of moral laxity, it is relatively easy for people to indulge in very personal workplace
interactions, whether one-sided or mutual. The person who tries, and doesn't accept rejection or
sees the unwilling colleague as a challenge, easily becomes a harasser, or may victimise the reluctant
colleague. The prevalence of marital stress and divorce in our society means that some men and
women come to work in a state of emotional distress that could make them vulnerable to sexual

Some confusion results from cultural differences about what is, or isn't, acceptable in our rapidly-
changing society. E.g. in the literature reviewed later in the report, we will observe a case of an
American woman who worked in the German division of a company (Lehman, 2006).

Credibility and victim-blaming

The credibility of the victim is often called into question, as it is usually her word against that of the
harasser’s. Several factors aggravate this problem:

The large majority of men who treat women with respect and would never consider taking such
liberties; usually find it difficult to believe that respected colleagues would abuse their position in
this way.

Management may take the word of a senior person rather than that of a subordinate as they are
likely to have known the senior longer and that he would be their key employee and a manager
usually has more credibility in a dispute than a subordinate. The harasser may be a high-level or
highly-skilled person who is difficult to replace, while the victim is likely to be on a lower level, and
thus more expendable.

The common tendency of victim-blaming often causes the harassed to end up virtually as the
accused. As in the case of sexual assault and rape, the dress, lifestyle and private life of the victim
seem to become more important than the behaviour being investigated. Naturally it is advisable
that women dress and behave appropriately at work. Yet any woman – whatever her appearance
and lifestyle – has the right to decide whether, when, where, and from whom she wishes to accept
any sexual approach or comment. And if she declines, she should not be victimised in any way.

The victim may be very embarrassed by the events, or afraid of ridicule or revenge, and is likely to
wait until matters become unbearable before she complains. She may then be blamed of having
played along or condoned the behaviour initially.

Many women are also inclined to excessive guilt and self-blaming, and may even believe that they
unwittingly did or said something to invite the unwanted behaviour. And if they are ashamed or
afraid and don't discuss the problem, they often don't realise that it is a fairly common occurrence,
and not their fault.

Lack of company policy

Many companies don’t have clear policies and complaint and disciplinary procedures to deal with
harassment – or if they have them, they do not implement them.

In one of the reviewed researches, more than 80% of the women respondents said they had been
harassed at work, while few of their companies had relevant policies. Women often resign rather
than complain, since they do not know where to go, or if they do complain, it is either treated as a
joke, or no action is taken by management.

If management condones such behaviour or if victims end up being blamed, the harasser is
encouraged to continue the pattern of harassment, affecting more and more women.


While behaviour and motives vary between individuals, we can probably divide harassers into six
broad groups:

Mr. Macho

This is usually linked to the bravado, when groups of men embarrass women with comments,
unwanted compliments or even physical evaluation, lewd jokes or gestures, and display of sexually
distasteful posters. All these can create a hostile environment, and even if it goes no further than
verbal and visual harassment, most women experience this as humiliating and disturbing.

The Great Gallant

This mostly verbal harassment occurs when the “gallant” pays excessive compliments and makes
personal comments that are out of place or embarrass the recipient. While most men and women
appreciate recognition and genuine compliments, comments focused on the appearance and the sex
of a worker – rather than her competence or her contribution – are usually unwelcome. While the
giver of compliments may see himself in a different light, the recipient usually experiences him as
patronising or annoying, or both.

The Opportunist

This kind of harasser is usually fairly promiscuous in his attentions to female staff, suppliers or
clients. Whenever the opportunity presents itself – in the elevator, when working late, on a business
trip, at the office party, when alone in an office or a car with a female colleague- the harasser likes to
take advantage of the situation. If confronted, he will insist that the women like and enjoy his

The Power-player

Here harassment is a power game, where the man insists on sexual favours in exchange for benefits
he can dispense because of his position: getting or keeping a job, promotion, orders, bank
overdrafts, a drivers' licence, and so on. This can be described as "quid pro quo" harassment, and is
closely allied to blackmail. Besides the effect on the victims, this form of harassment is an abuse of
power and trust. It can lead to bad business decisions, and can cost the company dearly in terms of
effectiveness, the cost of special favours, and company image.

The Serial Harasser

The most difficult type of harasser to identify, and the most difficult to deal with, is the one labelled
as the serial harasser. This person is compulsive and often has serious psychological problems. He
carefully builds up an image so that people will find it hard to believe ill of him, plans his approaches
carefully, and strikes in private where it is his word against that of a subordinate. He can do a lot of
damage before he is found out. Although serial harassers are in the minority, managers and
personnel professionals should be aware of this possibility. This person's aberrant behaviour is often
a call for help, rather than deliberate harassment – as is usually the case in the above four types. In
this case counselling is probably more important than mere disciplinary action.

The Situational Harasser

The trigger to this person's behaviour is usually psychological, but more situational than compulsive.
Incidents are often linked to specific life situations or emotional or medical problems, such as
divorce, wife’s illness, impotence, hormonal imbalance, prostate disease, or psychiatric or systemic
disturbances that suppress the higher brain functions. If the situation changes or the disease is
brought under control, the harassment usually stops – but by then both victim and harasser have
been harmed.


Women of all ages are harassed – physically attractive or plain, sexily or soberly dressed. Women of
high rank or status in the organisation are also harassed out of jealousy and intimidation and
sometimes out of the desire to attain the attention of a powerful woman.

Women who are particularly vulnerable include:

 Women who are the primary income providers of the household

 Divorced women or widows are often psychologically vulnerable because of personal loss
 Women who are timid or insecure about their abilities, and lack self-confidence and career-
related education; who have limited potential for advancement and are easy to replace.
 Women who are eager to be accepted and liked, and may find it difficult to be assertive.
Their friendliness and helpfulness is often misread as an invitation.

Case histories, experience and research internationally have proven that sexual harassment can
involve heavy costs, both to companies and to individuals concerned.

Costs to companies

Harassment costs companies money by reducing productivity, morale and motivation. If a worker is
constantly concerned that the harasser may strike again, she is unlikely to be able to work
effectively. At the same time, colleagues who are not involved may be de-motivated if they are
aware of unacceptable goings-on, or fear possible favouritism.

Companies may lose valuable staff. Many women resign rather than go through the unpleasantness
of a confrontation. The costs of bad decisions due to harassment are difficult to quantify. These
include costs of appointing people because of their looks or compliance with "quid pro quo"
demands, (rather than skills and competence), costs of perks or unearned increases for favourites.

High absenteeism among women could also be a result (or even a symptom) of harassment, as the
stress caused by such an unresolved problem, or the fear of being harassed again can either cause

The knowledge that harassment is permitted can undermine ethical standards and discipline in the
organisation in general, as staff lose respect for, and trust in, their seniors who indulge in, or turn a
blind eye to, such behaviour. If word gets around that a company allows sexual harassment to go
unchecked, the company's image among its customers and the general public may also suffer.

Legal costs

Companies can incur legal costs if the problem is ignored. Action may be brought against an
employer who knows or ought to know about harassment and fails to take appropriate preventive
action. Where there are inadequate channels of complaint, an employer may be held liable even if
there was no knowledge of the harassment.

Whereas sexual harassment was in the past usually dealt under human rights act, with the new
guidelines and impending bill on the same, harassment of an employee or prospective employee by
an employer or by another employee of the same employer is now expressly prohibited. Because of
being declared unlawful, such behaviour may lead to both criminal action and civil claims.

If a company has no clear policy on sexual harassment, it may also have problems if it needs to take
disciplinary steps against a harasser. Lack of clear definition of unacceptable behaviour would make

it easier for a harasser to take the company to court to appeal against disciplinary steps or dismissal.
This is followed by losses in terms of financial settlements with the victim prior or post trial. This also
leads to bad publicity of the company with the media.

Personal costs

The victims usually suffer the highest personal costs, although the harassers and even observers can
also be harmed if harassment is allowed to go uncontrolled.

Few people who have not experienced it personally understand the distress and even terror sexual
harassment can cause. Most women experience it as an insult, that undermines their self-
confidence and thus also their personal effectiveness. It may also undermine their trust in men and
in people in authority. In the case of women who were sexually abused as children or as adults,
another negative experience can cause serious psychological damage.

Women who resign because of sexual harassment problems, often have difficulty getting references
from their previous employers, or giving reasons for having left their previous jobs; and may thus
have difficulty in finding another position. Women, who resist harassment or complain, may be
victimised, E.g., overlooked for promotion. Thus this can hold back their career development and
personal growth.

The harassers themselves could fall into bad habits if their behaviour is allowed to continue. This can
negatively influence their effectiveness at work, their interpersonal relationships, and their personal
development. Particularly in the case of the last two of the types of harassers mentioned above, the
serial and the situational harassers, ignoring their behaviour could cause a deep-seated problem to
go untreated.

Men or women who observe harassment going unchecked may lose trust in their superiors, may feel
threatened by the situation if they believe that others are favoured because they play along, or may
either look for job opportunities elsewhere or will be tempted to indulge in the same type of


The Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010

In November 2010, the Union Cabinet approved the introduction of the Protection of Women
against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 in the Parliament to ensure a safe environment
for women at work places, both in public and private sectors whether organised or unorganized. The
measure will help in achieving gender empowerment and equality.

The proposed Bill, if enacted, will ensure that women are protected against sexual harassment at all
the work places, be it in public or private. This will contribute to realisation of their right to gender
equality, life and liberty and equality in working conditions everywhere. The sense of security at the
workplace will improve women’s participation in work, resulting in their economic empowerment
and inclusive growth.

Some Salient Features of the bill:
The Bill proposes a definition of sexual harassment, which is as laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme
Court in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997). Additionally it recognises the promise or threat to a
woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as ‘sexual harassment’ at
workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts.

The Bill provides protection not only to women who are employed but also to any woman who
enters the workplace as a client, customer, apprentice, and daily wageworker or in ad-hoc capacity.
Students, research scholars in colleges/university and patients in hospitals have also been covered.
Further, the Bill seeks to cover workplaces in the unorganised sectors.

The Bill provides for an effective complaints and redressal mechanism. Under the proposed Bill,
every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee. Since a large number of
the establishments (41.2 million out of 41.83 million as per Economic Census, 2005) in our country
have less than 10 workers for whom it may not be feasible to set up an Internal Complaints
Committee (ICC), the Bill provides for setting up of Local Complaints Committee (LCC) to be
constituted by the designated District Officer at the district or sub-district levels, depending upon
the need. This twin mechanism would ensure that women in any workplace, irrespective of its size
or nature, have access to a redressal mechanism. The LCCs will enquire into the complaints of sexual
harassment and recommend action to the employer or District Officer.

Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of the proposed Bill will be punishable with a fine
which may extend to 50,000 rupees.

Since there is a possibility that during the pendency of the enquiry the woman may be subject to
threat and aggression, she has been given the option to seek interim relief in the form of transfer
either of her own or the respondent or seek leave from work.

The Complaint Committees are required to complete the enquiry within 90 days and a period of 60
days has been given to the employer/District Officer for implementation of the recommendations of
the Committee.

The Bill provides for safeguards in case of false or malicious complaint of sexual harassment.
However, mere inability to substantiate the complaint or provide adequate proof would not make
the harassed liable for punishment.

Implementation of the Bill will be the responsibility of the Central Government in case of its own
undertakings/establishments and of the State Governments in respect of every workplace
established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by it as well as of private sector
establishments falling within their territory. Besides, the State and Central Governments will oversee
implementation as the proposed Bill casts a duty on the Employers to include a Report on the
number of cases filed and disposed of in their Annual Report. Organizations, which do not prepare
Annual Reports, would forward this information to the District Officer.

Through this implementation mechanism, every employer has the primary duty to implement the
provisions of law within his/her establishment while the State and Central Governments have been
made responsible for overseeing and ensuring overall implementation of the law. The Governments

will also be responsible for maintaining data on the implementation of the Law. In this manner, the
proposed Bill will create an elaborate system of reporting and checks and balances, which will result
in effective implementation of the Law.

Criticism of the bill:

Before the bill was approved to be discussed in the parliament to become a law, the government
invited the public and lawyers to express their concerns about the bill and suggest changes to its
structure. A memorandum was then prepared and publicised in which significant flaws from the bill
were pointed out. It was addressed to the Members of Department Related Parliamentary Standing
Committee, on Human Resources Development of the parliament. It pointed out the following:

1. The Act should be made applicable to all employees, irrespective of gender. The word woman
should be replaced by the word employee in all appropriate places in the draft bill so as to
render the proposed draft gender neutral.

2. There is no need for a committee be formed unless to hear a specific complaint. No

remuneration, monetary or otherwise should be provided to the committee members or
chairperson. No members, external to the employer organization should be allowed in the

3. Instead of being gender biased and committed to the cause of women the appointment of the
Committee Chairperson and members should be on the basis of their integrity and their
judicious approach.

a. The powers of the committee and the appeals process should be specified
b. According to the Indian law experts, the following observations on the ambiguity have
been made:
c. From the proposed draft bill it is not clear if the employer is bound by the
recommendations of the committee.
d. The process of appeals too is not clearly specified.
e. Would the recommendation of committee be open to challenge in a court of law?
f. Does the respondent have a right to utilize help of legal counsel during the proceedings
on the enquiry?
g. The power of the committee and the process of the enquiry of the complaint should be
well defined.
4. Monetary compensation should not be a part of conciliation proceedings. This would to a large
extent help avoid potential for misuse.
5. The complaint should be filed immediately on the occurrence of the alleged incident. Any
complaint not filed within a stipulated time period (4 weeks) should be closely scrutinized for
veracity before admission and the delay should be explained in writing by the harassed, to the
satisfaction of the committee.

6. As prevalent in the western world, the Employer should bear the financial burden of the
compensation ordered to the aggrieved person. The bill should clearly specify the action to be
taken on the respondent in absence of service rules, as that it supposed to be the main purpose
of this bill.

7. The committee should be divested of all powers to order any monetary compensation at any
stage of the proceedings.

8. Mandatory action must be taken against the harassed when the complaint is found to be
frivolous or malicious, within a maximum of 30 days.

9. Falsely accused person should have the right to pursue justice in a court of law, and claim
appropriate redressal as remedy for the mental trauma, pain, suffering, emotional distress and
social censure caused to the falsely accused person.

10. The quality of assistance to be provided by the Employer must be spelt out clearly and
unambiguously in the bill.

11. Avoid duplication of law as the very bill states that remedies under present Indian Penal Code
(IPC) are very much available for the same offense of sexual harassment and can also be easily
applied when the harasser is not an employee. So why not apply the very same IPC laws on the
employee itself and avoid duplication of laws. The government can alternatively, employ such,
women NGO members, qualified as “committed to the cause of women” in various other
upcoming social schemes.

Note: The complete bill can be viewed here:

This report has identified and reviewed the available literature on sexual harassment to provide an
overview of the current state of knowledge. This was done in order to understand the existing
research and studies done on the topic, the conclusions that were drawn from them and the further
scope of study generated from them. The following are the summaries of each individual paper that
was read for the purpose of the report. Apart from the following, more literature was also reviewed
in the process of the research and has been quoted in various parts of the report.


1. Sabitha M., “Sexual harassment awareness training at workplace: Can it effect administrators’
perception?” JOAAG, Vol. 3. No.2 2008

This paper focuses on the importance of training both men and women about variables related to
Sexual harassment. It focuses on the change of perception of what sexual harassment means to
people from before training and after training them about it. The paper also suggests training
methods for the same. The highlight of the paper is the findings on the effects of training in both
men and women. The study was done in a public sector organisation in Malaysia. They indicated that
untrained women have a more serious perception of the issue as compared to men. After training,
both men and women had an increased perception. The paper also brought to light that a lot of
times a harasser is not aware of the fact that he is harassing and so it is important to create this
awareness so as to prevent it from occurring at the workplace.

2. Aileen McColgan “Stewart v Cleveland Guest (Engineering) Ltd, -Sexual Harassment, Sex
Discrimination and Unfair Dismissal”, Industrial Law Journal, Vol. 24. No. 2. June 1995

This paper talks about various Sexual harassment and Sex Discrimination at workplace cases handled
in the court of law in London, England during the period of 1990-1995. The paper briefly describes
the cases, the trial and the verdicts. The highlight of the paper is the case of a woman- Ms. Stewart
v/s the organisation she worked for- Cleveland Guest Engineering Ltd. The paper describes how her
grievance was not handled well by the company, how she was wrongly treated after her complaint
and the unfair dismissal in the process. The study helps in understanding the various dimensions of a
sexual harassment case- the employer, the employee, the law and the faulty system. The paper
suggests a process that should’ve been followed for a rightful judgement and suggests that the
entire legislative approach to discrimination needs to be rethought.

3. Richard Trotter& Susan Rawson Zacur, “Corporate Sexual Harassment Policies: Effective
Strategic Human Resource Management”, Journal Of Business & Economics Research Volume
2, Number 3

This paper provides a step by step approach to employers for having an effective sexual harassment
policy and training program and to prevent its occurrence at all levels of the organisation. The article
maintains throughout that an effective policy needs to be developed by an organisation and
employees need to be educated about their rights. It is also necessary for them to understand the
steps to follow in case they are being harassed. According to the paper, organisations should clearly

enforce the conduct required at the workplace; maintain a proper grievance system and thorough
investigative processes in place.

4. John Lehman, “Sexual Harassment In The Workplace: Europe”, Journal of Business Case
Studies – Third Quarter 2006, Volume 2, Number 3

This paper describes a case of an American woman working for the German division of her firm and
her experience of sexual harassment in the workplace goes unacknowledged and unsolved because
of the varying culture. Multi-cultural and multi-national organisations often face dilemmas because
different cultures have different ethical perceptions. Activities which are considered normal in one
culture can be interpreted as immoral in another culture, leading to both confrontation and mutual
incomprehension. Thus, it is important for organisations to carry out inter-cultural training to their
employees on foreign assignments. The paper also talks about how culture shock can be tackled at
its 7 stages and avoided further.

5. S. Cho & L.D. Davenport, “Gender Discrimination in Korean Newsrooms”, Asian Journal of
Communication Vol.17, No.3, September2007

The paper describes the Gender Discrimination being faced by women working for Newspapers in
Korea. Korea is a patriarchal society where women are not being given equal opportunities as men
despite being as capable. The paper includes a survey and a study which conclusively proves that
Korean women journalists are not given important stories to cover as they are considered “less
capable” for the job. As a result of this they are less likely to get promoted or get better
compensation and end up with low or no career growth. This has resulted in many talented women
not entering or leaving jobs as journalists. Apart from preference to males, the study also illustrates
the prevalence of sexual harassment in Korean workplaces.

6. Nina Compton, “How Workplace Managers Can Protect Against Hostile Environment Claims
From Their Female And Male Employees A Legal Review Of Decisional Law”, Journal of
Diversity Management, Volume 2, Number 1, 2007

The paper describes the importance of Sexual harassment policy making for an organisation and
provides pointers on what makes a good policy. It looks at the policy not only from the point of view
of a harassed employee but from the point of view of the employer in order to avoid false claims. It
also suggests alternative methods of tackling genuine complaints by punishing of the harasser and
compensating the harassed within the organisation, thus avoiding legal complications. It indicates
that a strong policy that is approved by the court along with a strong investigation process can save
an organisation from the loss of finances as well as reputation. It also suggests that further work be
done to strengthen the current legal system for Sexual harassment by lawmakers with the help of
Social Science literature and Behavioural studies.

7. David S. Cohen, “Keeping Men “Men” and Women Down: Sex Segregation, Anti-Essentialism,
and Masculinity “, Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Volume 33:2, Summer 2010

The article discusses how “Sex Segregation” is still prevalent in society and covers two aspects of its
impact on masculinity and men. It delves into the fact that masculinity is a hegemony and that men
have a need to be superior and more aggressive than women. It discusses the impact of this on
women in detail and how it leads to discrimination based on gender, even harassment in many cases

and goes to the extent of abuse and violence in others. The concept of “Anti-Essentialism” in the
paper makes it clear that male dominance is not exactly a natural phenomenon but something that
has been developed, constructed and programmed into the society for a long time. The author
stresses that the phenomenon should be far from accepted or justified and should instead be
opposed and unconditioned from people’s minds.

8. Arianne Renan Barzilay, “Women At Work: Towards an Inclusive Narrative of the Rise of the
Regulatory State” , Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Volume 31:1, Winter 2008

This article throws light on the major role played my women reformers in the rise of the regulatory
state in the United States of America. It reinforces the importance of Women at work and in this
case, the value they added in context to the regulatory state implemented to enrich standard of
living. The article maintains that social regulation is an important practice which is further enhanced
by women participation. This paper is extremely relevant to the topic of Gender Discrimination and
Development and helps understanding the importance and impact of women at workplace.

9. Dana Michael Hollywood, “Creating a True Army of One: Four Proposals to Combat Sexual
Harassment in Today's Army”, Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Volume 30:1, Winter 2007

The article discusses the evolution of Sexual Harassment policies if the U.S. Army. It talks about how
Sexual Harassment was perceived earlier and how it is perceived now. The US Army disbanded
Gender Segregation (Woman‘s Army Corps) and created an “Equal Opportunity” policy which also
gave importance to harassment. It explains the judicial system of the US Army and how it handles
cases of harassment and how it further aims to reduce the occurrence as it is extremely important
for the army’s performance as well as finances. It compares and contrasts the Army before and the
Army now showing the present Zero Tolerance to harassment and the legislations that support it.
This has lead to a rise in the Women joining the army making the army a non-hostile working

10. G.Cantisano, J. F. Domínguez & M. Depolo, “Perceived Sexual Harassment at Work: Meta-
Analysis and Structural Model of Antecedents and Consequences”, The Spanish Journal of
Psychology, 2008, Vol. 11, No. 1

This paper conducts a study so as to meta-analytically review the studies on Sexual harassment at
work. It studies the previous research done on Sexual harassment and proposes a model linking
sexual harassment with its antecedents and consequences. Based on calculations from the data
gathered from an extensive survey, it tests the model and proposes a final one. Their research
clearly shows that Sexual Harassment can be rooted to its most common antecedent- Social
interaction. Earlier theoretical work offered explanation the problem sociologically and
psychologically, but this enforces that the strong link between organisational characteristics and
sexual harassment should not be ignored as. These will provide a more direct mechanism to prevent
its occurrence in workplaces. The paper also provides directions for further study suggesting that the
studies be done not only from the point of view of the victim but also his/her co-workers and

11. Jennifer L. Berdahl, “The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women”, Journal of Applied
Psychology, 2007, Vol. 92, No. 2

This paper revolves around 3 studies conducted by the author in order to test two distinct views on
the phenomenon of Sexual Harassment. Study 1 showed that Women who were had masculine
personality traits are more likely to be sexually harassed. Study 2 suggested that strong women were
more likely to negatively evaluate harassment or potential harassers. Also, it suggested that the
reason relatively masculine women experienced the most sexual harassment in Study 1 is probably
not due to an enhanced likelihood on their part to view these experiences negatively but instead
reflects an actual likelihood for them to experience more sexual harassment. Study 3 highlighted
that women who were working in male-dominant jobs experienced more harassment and this was
again pointed to the fact that there personalities were different from ideal feminine ones. The
studies concluded that Sexual harassment was more driven towards the “Deviant” women than the
“Desired” ones.

12. Amal Bass, “Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders: Turning a Blind Eye to the Reality of Sexual
Harassment”, Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Volume 28, Winter 2005

This paper describes a Sexual Harassment case and how the trial went in favour of the employer
thereby disproving the existence of equal opportunities, lack of fairness and rampant power play.
The case occurred in the Pennsylvania State Police office when their employee Nancy Suders quit
her job because she was being harassed by her supervisors at the workplace. The case was in her
favour under the Third Circuit. But it was overruled by the Supreme Court making Suders’ action as
an employee unacceptable. The Supreme Court chose the ‘Ellerth/Faragher Defence’ in making their
ruling. The Third Circuit addressed the issue of sexual harassment better as it encouraged more
preventive policies and procedures and was more sensitive to what the employees face at the
workplace. By favouring the opposite, the Supreme Court failed to resolve the problem and forced
the creation of an unrealistic image of power dynamics at the workplace.

13. Cortina & Wasti, “Profiles in Coping: Responses to Sexual Harassment Across Persons,
Organizations, and Cultures”, Journal of Applied Psychology, 2005, Vol.90, No.1

This paper does a study on how different women respond and cope with sexual harassment. In the
study, the observed women go through Gender Harassment, Unwanted Sexual Attention and Sexual
coercion. Three coping profiles were then identified: Detached, Avoidant Negotiating and Support
Seeking. The study observes remarkably similar coping profiles across three distinct cultures and two
occupational classes. It also developed an ecological model within which to predict women’s coping

This model will help build a less hostile workplace environment. Companies will now know better
when how to intervene in a problem and can have better support systems that help the employee
cope. Sexual harassment will not be limited to the very few formal grievances. More generally,
managers who supervise employees from different backgrounds may benefit from culturally
sensitive training related to sexual harassment.

14. G. Blakely, E. Blakely and R. Moorman, “The Effects of Training on Perceptions of Sexual
Harassment Allegations”, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1998, 28, 1

This paper is one of the earlier studies done in the field.

It describes a study that was conducted among a large group of men and women at different
workplaces. There was a film on sexual harassment shown to a part of the group and not shown to
the other. It was observed that women considered most sexual harassment actions severely
offensive irrespective of the movie. But men displayed a change in what they perceived as sexually
offensive. The severity was ambiguous for those who hadn’t seen the movie and drastically different
and more severe for those who had. The study thereby concluded on the importance of training and
education on the topic as an essential measure for prevention. It also suggests that further research
be carried out to examine whether increasing one’s sensitivity directly affects their sexually oriented
work behaviour or weather the relationship between attitudes and behaviour is dodgy and

15. Fitzgerald, L.F., Drasgow, F., Hulin, C.L., Gelfand, J.J., & Magley, V.J., “Antecedents and
consequences of sexual harassment in organizations: A test of an integrated model”, Journal
of Applied Psychology, 82 (4), 1997

This is another early study in the field that provides the framework of a model that shows the
antecedents and consequences of Sexual harassment in organizations. The basis of the study is that
harassment practices are a function of organizational and job characteristics. The survey in the paper
collects data from women at a regulated West Coast utility in USA. It also discovers the psychological
and job outcomes of Sexual harassment. The survey confirms the initial basis, indicates a higher rate
of harassment at male-dominated workplaces and shows that women being harassed undergo more
psychological problems and stronger turnover intentions. This results in lowered productivity and
carries heavy organisational costs as well.

16. Bahaudin G. Mujtaba and Randi L. Sims, “Gender Differences in Managerial Attitudes Towards
Unearned Privilege and Favoritism in the Retail Sector”, Employee Responsibilities and Rights
Journal,15 October 2010

This paper describes the concepts of unearned privilege and favouritism and tests if there are
differences in managerial attitudes towards the use of these behaviours based on respondent
gender. The results indicate that female managers more strongly disapproved of the use of
unearned privilege in making promotion decisions and more strongly disapproved of the decision to
use favouritism in decision making related to customer relations. The results also indicated that male
managers were less likely to disapprove of the use of unearned privilege when they had greater
years of management experience. In addition, the most experienced female managers reported
disapproval levels for the use favouritism in decision making related to customer relations equal to
that of the most experienced male managers.

17. Robin L. Snipes, Sharon L. Oswald and Steven B. Caudill, “Sex-Role Stereotyping, Gender
Biases, and Job Selection: The Use of Ordinal Logit in Analyzing Likert Scale Data”, Employee
Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 1998, Volume 11, Number 2

Sex-role stereotyping and gender biases are examined in a study of 246 individuals. Results show
that previous gender biases in job selection have all but disappeared; however, biases still seem
prevalent in the assessment of individuals'' long term success on the job. Specifically, the findings
showed that while gender biases are found only slightly in the hiring decisions of male and females
evaluators, the perception of the applicant’s future job performance was generally less favourable

toward the female applicant as compared to males. An important contribution of this study is in the
methodology. It introduces the use of an ordinal framework which improves upon previous research.

18. Pamela P. Stokes, Sue Stewart-Belle and Joyce M. Barnes, “The Supreme Court Holds Class on
Sexual Harassment: How to Avoid a Failing Grade”, Employee Responsibilities and Rights
Journal, Volume 12, Number 2

This article analyzes the three recent sexual harassment cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in
its 1997–98 session. The purpose is to highlight the most common mistakes made by management
as evidenced by the case history on this topic. Each mistake is described in the context of the cases
and with reference to widespread business practices. The explanation of each error is followed by a
brief practical directive to aid management in formulating appropriate policies and practices on that
topic. A concluding section describes the desired result of each recommendation from the
perspective of the employees. This article gives managers a quick checklist to ensure that their
policies and practices avoid common problems and are up to date with the latest court
interpretations on sexual harassment.

19. Patricia A. Simpson and Michelle Kaminski, “Gender, Organizational Justice Perceptions, and
Union Organizing”, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 19, No. 1

The authors examine the relationship between gender and organizational justice perceptions and
the implications of this relationship for organizing women. They employ a survey study design to
confirm expectations associated with the anecdotal literature on this topic, namely that women
place greater value on interactional justice than on distributive or procedural justice. Results indicate
that gender leads to valuing interactional justice more highly only in interaction with race.
Specifically, in contrast to white women and both white and black men, black women give greater
weight to being treated with dignity and respect than to the other two organizational justice

20. Charles M. Vance, Ellen A. Ensher, Frederica M. Hendricks and Claudia Harris, “Gender-Based
Vicarious Sensitivity to Disempowering Behavior in Organizations: Exploring an Expanded
Concept of Hostile Working Environment”, Employee Responsibilities and Rights
Journal,Volume 16, Number 3

This study explores evidence of gender-based vicarious sensitivity to disempowering behaviour in

organizations, expanding the concept of hostile working environment beyond the context of sexual
harassment. Male and female graduate and undergraduate students viewed 10 video segments
viewed segments of the Anita Hill case. Although no significant relationship was found between the
personal attributes of age and ethnicity to perceptions of disempowering behaviour, female
participants reported seeing significantly more offensive behaviour in the video segments than did
male participants. The results are discussed in terms of greater female sensitivity to common forms
of disempowering behaviour in organizations, and having a disparate negative impact and
systematically placing women at a disadvantage in today's workforce.

21. Richard L. Wiener, Linda Hurt, Brenda Russell, Kelley Mannen and Charles Gasper,
“Perceptions of Sexual Harassment: The Effects of Gender, Legal Standard, and Ambivalent
Sexism”, Law and Human Behavior, 1997, Volume 21, Number 1

This research tests the possibility that the reasonable woman as compared to the reasonable person
test of hostile work environment sexual harassment interacts with hostile sexist beliefs and under
some conditions triggers protectionist attitudes toward women who complain of sexual harassment.
A sample of undergraduates was administered with uncertain sexism inventory along with the fact
patterns in two harassment cases. They were asked to make legally relevant decisions under either
the reasonable woman or person standard. The study reveals that those high in hostile sexism, and
women, found more evidence of harassment. However, those high in benevolent sexism did not
exhibit the hostile sexism effects. It also shows that men were less sensitive to the reasonable
woman standard than women. Under some conditions the reasonable woman standard enabled
both genders to find greater evidence of harassment.

22. Nuray Sakallı-Uğurlu, Selin Salman and Sinem Turgut, “Predictors of Turkish Women’s and
Men’s Attitudes toward Sexual Harassment: Ambivalent Sexism, and Ambivalence Toward
Men”, Sex Roles, Volume 63, Numbers 11-12

This study examined the relationships among ambivalent sexism (hostile/benevolent), ambivalence
toward men (hostility/benevolence) and Turkish women/men’s attitudes toward sexual harassment,
including attitudes toward viewing sexual harassment as a result of provocative behaviors of women
(ASHPBW) and attitudes toward viewing sexual harassment as a trivial matter (ASHTM). Participants
included 220 Turkish undergraduates (136 were female with minimum age of 20). They tended to
blame women for the incidents of sexual harassment whereas they viewed sexual harassment as a
very important social problem. As compared to women, men scored higher in both ASHPBW and
ASHTM, suggesting that men are more tolerant of sexual harassment. For both genders, hostile
sexism and benevolence toward men predicted ASHPBW. However, for only men, hostile and
benevolent sexism predicted ASHTM.

23. Maureen O'Connor, Barbara A. Gutek, Margaret Stockdale, Tracey M. Geer and Renée
Melançon, “Explaining Sexual Harassment Judgments: Looking Beyond Gender of the
Rater”,Law and Human Behavior- From the issue entitled "Psychology, Law and the
Workplace", 2004, Volume 28, Number 1

In two decades of research on sexual harassment, one finding that appears repeatedly is that gender
of the rater influences judgments about sexual harassment such that women are more likely than
men to label behaviour as sexual harassment. Yet, sexual harassment judgments are complex,
particularly in situations that culminate in legal proceedings. And, this one variable, gender, may
have been overemphasized to the exclusion of other situational and rater characteristic variables.
This study attempts to look beyond gender to answer this question. In the studies reported here,
raters (undergraduates and community adults), either read a written scenario or viewed a
videotaped re-enactment of a sexual harassment trial. The nature of the work environment was
manipulated to see what, if any, effect the context would have on gender effects. Additionally, a
number of rater characteristics beyond gender were measured, including ambivalent sexism
attitudes of the raters, their judgments of harassed credibility, and self-referencing that might help
explain rater judgments. Respondent gender, work environment, and community vs. student sample

differences produced reliable differences in sexual harassment ratings in both the written and video
trial versions of the study. The gender and sample differences in the sexual harassment ratings,
however, are explained by a model which incorporates hostile sexism, perceptions of the harassed's
credibility, and raters' own ability to put them in the harassed's position.

24. Carol T. Kulik, Elissa L. Perry and Molly B. Pepper, “Here Comes the Judge: The Influence of
Judge Personal Characteristics on Federal Sexual Harassment Case Outcomes”, Law and
Human Behavior, 2003, Volume 27, Number 1

This study explored the effects of judges' personal characteristics (gender, race, age, and political
affiliation) and case characteristics on the outcomes of federal cases of hostile environment sexual
harassment. Results revealed that even after controlling for the effects of relevant case
characteristics (e.g., severity of the harassment), judges' personal characteristics influenced case
outcomes. Specifically, younger judges and Democrat judges were more likely to find for the plaintiff
(the alleged victim of harassment). The probability that the decision would favour the plaintiff was
only 16% when the case was heard by an older judge but 45% when heard by a younger judge. The
probability that the decision would favour the plaintiff was only 18% when the case was heard by a
judge who had been appointed by a Republican president but 46% when the judge had been
appointed by a Democrat president.

25. Robyn A. Berkley and David M. Kaplan, “Assessing Liability for Sexual Harassment: Reactions
of Potential Jurors to Email Versus Face-to-Face Incidents”, Employee Responsibilities and
Rights Journal, 2009, Volume 21, Number 3

This paper investigates reactions of potential jurors to sexual harassment incidents. Email and face-
to-face incidents are compared to determine the importance of context on decision-making. The
paper considers juror decision-making for both guilt and level of award to randomly assigned
scenarios involving multiple levels of harassment. Results found that email harassment was
perceived more harshly, consistent with a context-based hypothesis. The paper concludes with
organizational implications for better handling sexual harassment awareness training as well as
Internet usage guidelines.

26. Jeremy A. Blumenthal, “The Reasonable Woman Standard: A Meta-Analytic Review of Gender
Differences in Perceptions of Sexual Harassment “, Law and Human Behavior, From the issue
entitled "Gender and the Law", 1998, Volume 22, Number 1

Courts and legislatures have begun to develop the reasonable woman standard (RWS) as a criterion
for deciding sexual harassment trials. This standard rests on assumptions of a wide divergence
between the perceptions of men and women when viewing social-sexual behaviour that may be
considered harassing. Narrative reviews of the literature on such perceptions have suggested that
these assumptions are only minimally supported. To test these assumptions quantitatively, a meta-
analytic review was conducted that assessed the size, stability, and moderators of gender
differences in perceptions of sexual harassment. The effect of the actor's status relative to the target
also was evaluated meta-analytically, as one alternative to the importance of gender effects. Results
supported the claims of narrative reviews for a relatively small gender effect, and draw attention to
the status effect. In discussing legal implications of the present findings, earlier claims are echoed

suggesting caution in establishing the reasonable woman standard, and one alternative to the RWS,
the reasonable victim standard, is discussed.

27. Marjorie L. Icenogle, Bruce W. Eagle, Sohel Ahmad and Lisa A. Hanks, “Assessing Perceptions
of Sexual Harassment Behaviours in a Manufacturing Environment”, Journal of Business and
Psychology, 2002,Volume 16, Number 4

This study, conducted in a manufacturing plant, investigated employee perceptions of the

behaviours of supervisors and co-workers that constitute quid pro quo and hostile work
environment sexual harassment. Responses indicated that the majority of employees can accurately
identify behaviours that are frequently associated with quid pro quo harassment, but cannot identify
behaviours that are used to establish evidence of a hostile work environment. Comparisons of
employees' scores demonstrated that male workers, relative to female workers, were more
frequently accurate in identifying behaviours of both supervisors and co-workers that constitute
sexual harassment. Perceptions of harassment varied according to job classification. Women in
white-collar jobs were significantly more knowledgeable about what behaviours constitute sexual
harassment than women in blue-collar jobs.

28. Deborah Ware Balogh, Mary E. Kite, Kerri L. Pickel, Deniz Canel and James Schroeder, “The
Effects of Delayed Report and Motive for Reporting on Perceptions of Sexual Harassment”,
Sex Roles, 2003, Volume 48, Numbers 7-8

The paper examines whether the timing of the report and the victim's apparent motive for reporting
influences women's and men's perceptions of sexual harassment. Undergraduates (153 women, 149
men) listened to 1 of 6 versions of audio-taped testimony of the victim and defendant. The report
was filed either immediately or 18 months later, and motive either was presented as selfless,
retaliatory, or was not specified. Participants chose a verdict, rated the defendant's guilt, and rated
the defendant and victim on several dimensions. Higher guilt ratings, more positive evaluations of
the victim, and more negative evaluations of the defendant were associated with immediate
reporting and an selfless motive, although women weighed these factors more heavily than did men.

29. M. Sandy Hershcovis, Sharon K. Parker and Tara C. Reich, “The Moderating Effect of Equal
Opportunity Support and Confidence in Grievance Procedures on Sexual Harassment from
Different Perpetrators”, Journal of Business Ethics, 2009, Volume 92, Number 3

This study drew on three theoretical perspectives – attribution theory, power, and role identity
theory – to compare the job-related outcomes of sexual harassment from organizational insiders
(i.e., supervisors and co-workers) and organizational outsiders (i.e., offenders and members of the
public) in a sample of 482 UK police officers and police support staff. Results showed that sexual
harassment from insiders was related to higher intentions to quit, over-performance demands, and
lower job satisfaction, whereas sexual harassment from outsiders was not significantly related to any
of the outcome variables investigated. We also examined two moderator variables: equal
opportunity support and confidence in grievance procedures. Consistent with the hypotheses, equal
opportunity support mitigated the effects of sexual harassment from supervisors on intent to quit
and over-performance demands. Confidence in grievance procedures moderated the relationship

between sexual harassment from supervisors and all outcome variables. Implications for theory and
practice are also discussed.

30. Barbara A. Gutek, Ryan O. Murphy and Bambi Douma, “A Review and Critique of the Sexual
Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ)”, Law and Human Behavior, 2004, , Volume 28, Number 4

This paper reviews and critiques the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ)-“a self-report inventory
representing the first attempt to assess the prevalence of sexual harassment in a manner that met
traditional psychometric standards”. Widely used by its developers and others as a measure of
sexual harassment, the SEQ is not a finished product, has a number of problems, and has weak
psychometric properties. Because of inconsistencies (e.g., in time frame, number of items, wording
of items), the SEQ lacks the advantages of standardized measures, such as the ability to assess
changes over time. It defines sexual harassment very broadly, having the effect of distorting findings
about sexual harassment. Most importantly, it is not clear what or whose definition of sexual
harassment the SEQ assesses.

31. Denise M. Driscoll, Janice R. Kelly and Wendy L. Henderson, “Can Perceivers Identify
Likelihood to Sexually Harass?”, Sex Roles, 1998, Volume 38, Numbers 7-8

The paper investigates how men who differ in their likelihood to sexually harass (LSH) are perceived
by themselves and others. In Study 1, 36 Caucasian male participants were videotaped while being
interviewed by a subordinate female. Participants rated her performance and then responded to
self-report attitudinal and personality scales. Higher LSH men reported more traditional attitudes
toward women's roles, a less feminine personality, and lower competency ratings for the female
interviewer. Study 2 investigated whether participants could differentiate between high and low LSH
men from video clips. 81 male and 76 female Caucasian participants rated high LSH men (compared
to low LSH men) as (1) higher in LSH, (2) more masculine, (3) less feminine, and (4) more traditional
toward women's roles than low LSH men. Ability of men and women to predict or identify LSH was
observed to be different and more accurate for women implying the lack of awareness in certain

32. Julie A. Woodzicka and Marianne LaFrance, “The Effects of Subtle Sexual Harassment on
Women’s Performance in a Job Interview”, Sex Roles, 2005, Volume 53, Numbers 1-2

The long-term consequences of moderate to severe sexual harassment have been discussed a lot in
other studies but little is known about the immediate effects of more subtle harassment. This study
was designed to examine real-time consequences of subtle sexual harassment in a job interview
using objective indicators of job performance. Fifty women were recruited for a job interview.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of two interview conditions during which they were
asked either three sexual or non-sexual questions interspersed with standard interview questions. In
the former, women applicants spoke less fluently, gave lower quality answers, and asked fewer job
relevant questions than did those in the non-sexual interview. It thus appears that even relatively
mild harassment disrupts immediate performance.

33. Ellen R. Peirce, Benson Rosen and Tammy Bunn Hiller, Breaking the Silence: Creating User-
Friendly Sexual Harassment Policies, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 1997,
Volume 10, Number 3

Numerous surveys suggest that while the number of women in the work force who have
experienced sexual harassment is high, the number of those who are willing to actually report
incidents of harassment is far lower. To better understand the consequences of sexual harassment
to women and the legal implications to the corporation, the study discusses briefly the psycho-
physiological consequences experienced by victims, followed by a review of sexual harassment law.
Next we discuss the results of our survey based on a national sample of 1500 working women. The
paper examines the reasons underlying women's reluctance to report sexual harassment and
identifies policies and procedures to encourage the reporting of sexual harassment. The findings
conclude in terms of the need for organizations to develop more user-friendly sexual harassment
reporting procedures.

34. Stans de Haas, Greetje Timmerman, Mechtild Höing, Miriam Zaagsma and Ine
Vanwesenbeeck, “The Impact of Sexual Harassment Policy in the Dutch Police Force”,
Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 2009 Volume 22, Number 4

The aim this study comes across as an evaluation of the outcome of sexual harassment policy in the
Dutch Police Force. Using a survey, sexual harassment was measured in 2000 and again in 2006 and
we tested whether sexual harassment is associated with the comprehensiveness of policies. To be
able to identify divisions with comprehensive policies, we interviewed 29 key persons in semi-
structured interviews. It appeared that between 2000 and 2006 sexual harassment did not decrease:
neither for women nor for men. Furthermore, the risk of sexual harassment was not lower in
divisions that implemented comprehensive policies than in divisions with less comprehensive
policies. The results suggest that sexual harassment is a workplace hazard that is very difficult to
prevent in male dominated workplaces and implementing a comprehensive policy is not sufficient to
prevent this workplace hazard.

35. Debbie S. Dougherty, “Gendered Constructions of Power During Discourse About Sexual
Harassment: Negotiating Competing Meanings” Sex Roles, 2006, Volume 54, Numbers 7-8

This study uses same-sex and mixed-sex focus groups and stimulated recall interviews and was
designed to identify and explore gendered constructions of power during discourse about sexual
harassment. It was discovered that the men tended to construct power as hierarchically held by
individuals with formal authority. Consequently, they tended to view sexual harassers as managers
and supervisors. Women tended to view power as a negotiated process in which power was gained
and lost through interactions. Consequently, the women tended to perceive all members of an
organization as possible harassers. When these men and women were given an opportunity to
discuss these issues during mixed gendered interactions, they failed to recognize the gendered
constructions of power.

36. Emily A. Leskinen, Lilia M. Cortina and Dana B. Kabat, “Gender Harassment: Broadening Our
Understanding of Sex-Based Harassment at Work”, Law and Human Behaviour, 2011, Volume
35, Number 1

This study challenges the common legal and organizational practice of privileging sexual advance
forms of sex-based harassment, while neglecting gender harassment. Survey data came from
women working in two male-dominated contexts: the military and the legal profession. Their
responses to the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ) revealed five typical profiles of

harassment: low victimization, gender harassment, gender harassment with unwanted sexual
attention, moderate victimization, and high victimization. The vast majority of harassment victims
fell into one of the first two groups, which described virtually no unwanted sexual advances. When
compared to non-victims, gender-harassed women showed significant decrements in professional
and psychological well-being. These findings underscore the seriousness of gender harassment,
which merits greater attention by both law and social science.

37. Margaret S. Stockdale, T. K. Logan and Rebecca Weston, ”Sexual Harassment and
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Damages Beyond Prior Abuse”, Law and Human Behavior,
2009, Volume 33, Number 5

This study examined the extent to which harassment experiences correlate with posttraumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and whether diagnosable PTSD on the basis of sexual harassment
occurs after accounting for prior PTSD, prior sexual abuse, and prior psychological dysfunction. The
sample consisted of a two-wave panel of 445 women who had received a domestic violence
protective order from a Kentucky court. Hierarchical linear and logistic analyses confirmed that
sexual harassment experiences were significantly correlated with PTSD symptoms after controlling
for an extensive set of trauma variables measured in both the baseline and follow up interviews. Our
findings lend further evidence that claims of PTSD from sexual harassment may be credible even if
claimants have been victims of other forms of trauma.

38. Elizabeth A. Hoffmann, “Selective Sexual Harassment: Differential Treatment of Similar Groups
of Women Workers”, Law and Human Behaviour, 2004, Volume 28, Number 1

If male workers categorize different groups of women co-workers and, subsequently, treat them
differently, the experiences of women from one of these groups would not be indicative of the
experiences of women from another group. When this different treatment involves hostile
environment sexual harassment of one group, but not the other, then the law must recognize the
possibility of selective sexual harassment. Without this understanding of the nuances of the
workplace dynamics, a court could mistake the women of the non-harassed group as representing
“reasonable women” and the women of the harassed group as simply oversensitive. This paper
draws on empirical data to demonstrate such a situation and advocates for a version of the,
reasonable victim, standard to facilitate a closer analysis of hostile environment sexual harassment

39. Bryan J. Pesta, Kenneth J. Dunegan and Mary W. Hrivnak, “Contrast and Rater-Perspective
Effects on Judgments of Sexual Harassment Severity: What He Thinks She Thinks, and Vice
Versa”, Journal of Business and Psychology, 2007, Volume 22, Number 2

The study looks at whether ratings biases can influence judgments people make about sexually
harassing behaviours. 176 online participants read and rated the severity of complaint scenarios
describing different incidents of alleged harassment. The study was conducted by manipulating: (1)
contrast effects, by having people judge other, independent scenarios before judging a target
scenario, and (2) rater-perspective effects, by having people judge from both a self- and then an
opposite-gender perspective. For the former, it was hypothesized that if judgments about
harassment are qualitatively similar to judgments made in other areas (e.g., performance appraisal),
they too should show contrast effects. For the latter, it was hypothesized people would use

stereotypes about the other gender, thereby overestimating the true (i.e., self-perspective driven)
gender difference. Results of the survey supported both hypotheses, suggesting that decision
makers should be aware of the possible influence of biases when judging whether behaviours
constitute harassment.

40. Angelina C. Toomey and Allen F. Wysock, “Sexual Harassment in the Information Age: The
Human Resource Manager's Guide to Non-traditional Sexual Harassment”, IFAS, University of
Florida, December 2009

This paper acts a basic guideline for any human resources department to follow. It focuses on
establishing What Sexual Harassment is and how it is present in today’s time in the workplace
environment. It also gives special focus to non-traditional and same-sex sexual harassment. It
discusses that same-sex harassment is prevalent in heterosexual people also and highlights the
menace of cyber-stalking. It gives a step by step procedure to deal with a sexual harassment case
and more importantly its prevention which is: Inform, Prevent, Encourage. It also concludes that
managers should be trained and equipped with the required tools to understand, deal with, mitigate
and solve traditional and non-traditional cases of sexual harassment.

41. Justine E. Tinkler, “People Are Too Quick to Take Offense”: The Effects of Legal Information
and Beliefs on Definitions of Sexual Harassment, Law & Social Inquiry, 2008, Volume 33, Issue

Using data from a nationwide study of sexual harassment in the United States’ federal workplace,
this article investigates how legal understanding, opinions about the regulation of sexual
harassment, and social status affect whether people define uninvited sexual jokes or remarks as
harassment. The results indicate that how people define sexual harassment is directly related to the
extent to which they view sexual harassment rules as ambiguous and threatening to workplace
norms. Moreover, results show that while women generally define sexual harassment more broadly
than men, they actually resist defining sexual jokes or remarks as harassment. Finally, knowledge of
the workplace sexual harassment policy moderates the effect of beliefs on definitions of sexual
harassment. These findings suggest a complexity in the way people reconcile their knowledge of the
law with their personal views about power and social interaction in the workplace.

In sum, the findings from the analyses provide evidence that future sociolegal research should take
note of the variations in the content of the law, how people learn about the law, and how the social
groups the law protects interpret and use it.

42. Anna-Maria Marshall, “Injustice Frames, Legality, and the Everyday Construction of Sexual
Harassment”, Law & Social Inquiry, Volume 28, Issue 3

This paper examines the frames that women use to understand their experience with sexual
harassment. While legal frames do provide crucial guidance to women evaluating the behaviour of
their colleagues and supervisors, working women deployed a number of other interpretive frames
when deciding whether they had been harmed by such behaviour. Some of those frames emerge
from feminist messages about discrimination and male abuse of power in the workplace; some
emerge from management ideology that emphasizes efficiency and productivity; and some emerge
from the criticism of sexual harassment policies as an unnecessary limitation on women's sexual

freedom. But feeling a sense of harm does not automatically translate into the use of the label
sexual harassment. Rather, women also employed an objective standard that compared their
experience to some threshold of harassing behaviours. Only when the behaviours met this standard
of offensiveness and were perceived as harmful did women consider their experiences sexual

43. Beth A. Quinn, “The Paradox of Complaining: Law, Humor, and Harassment in the Everyday
Work World”, Law & Social Inquiry, 2006, Volume 25, Issue 4

This article addresses the question of women's seeming rejection of sexual harassment law by
refusing to apply the label “sexual harassment” in the face of incidents that would easily qualify as
such. Building on the work of Bumiller (1988) and the tradition of sociological studies focusing on
understanding the power of the law in its everyday context (e.g., Merry 1979; Engel 1987; Sarat and
Kearns 1993), this analysis explores the “tactical milieu” in which both hostile work environment
sexual harassment and tactics for its resistance are produced. Using in-depth interviews with both
women and men, the author explores the ways a particular form of hostile work environment
harassment–dubbed “chain yanking”–poaches on the realm of ambiguous humor to effect male
group solidarity and women's disempowerment. A common counter tactic–”not taking it personal”–
is analyzed for its simultaneous power as resistance and unwitting collaboration. The contradictory
effects of this tactic-counter tactic pairing on the naming and claiming of the harm of sexual
harassment are examined, as well as the implications this has for combating sexual harassment in
the workplace.

44. Jennie Kihnley, “Unraveling the Ivory Fabric: Institutional Obstacles to the Handling of Sexual
Harassment Complaints”, Law & Social Inquiry, 2000, Volume 25, Issue 1

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 make
universities liable for sexual harassment that occurs within both the employment and academic
contexts. This article examines how universities implement and enforce the mandates of both Title
VII and Title IX through exploratory research about sexual harassment complaint procedures at a
public university system on the West Coast. In-depth interviews with personnel at each campus shed
light on problems with inserting a complaint resolution process into an institution that
simultaneously strives to eliminate sexual harassment, while wanting to protect itself from liability.
This inherent conflict of goals is reflected in the differing roles of the Title IX office and the Women's
Resource Center, in creation of a user friendly policy, and in the two branches of dispute resolution.

45. Cheryl R. Kaiser, Brenda Major, “A Social Psychological Perspective on Perceiving and
Reporting Discrimination”, Law & Social Inquiry, 2006, Volume 31, Issue 4

This article reviews social psychological theory and empirical research on perceiving and reporting
discrimination. The article begins with an examination of factors that affect whether individuals
perceive themselves as targets of discrimination. It then goes on by addressing whether individuals
who perceive discrimination are willing to report their perceptions, as well as the interpersonal
consequences they might face for so doing. Throughout, this article examines how endorsement of
the meritocratic worldview shapes these discrimination-related processes. Finally, the authors
conclude by noting the potential for important theoretical, empirical, and applied advances on

discrimination scholarship that can arise from interdisciplinary collaboration among legal scholars
and social scientists.

46. Kimberly A. Lonsway,Leslie V. Freeman,Lilia M. Cortina,Vicki J. Magley,Louise F. Fitzgerald,

“Understanding the Judicial Role in Addressing Gender Bias: A View from the Eighth Circuit
Federal Court System”, Law & Social Inquiry, 2002, Volume 27, Issue 2

According to research, the role of trial judges in the litigation process is frequently debated. In the
paper, the judicial role in addressing gender bias in federal litigation, using data gathered for the
Eighth Circuit Gender Fairness Task Force is explored. The federal judges of this circuit were
surveyed about their experiences, observations, and opinions of gender biased conduct. Results
indicated that although judges viewed judicial intervention as an appropriate response to gender
bias, they had little personal experience with intervention in such a situation. Furthermore, when
specific hypothetical scenarios were presented, they generally agreed that the described conduct
was inappropriate but offered little consensus regarding the best course of action for an attorney or
judge confronted with such behaviour. The Eighth Circuit data thus provide the basis for expanded
understanding of the conduct at issue, the options for action in response, and the persistent
discrepancy in viewpoints on gender bias and the judicial role.

47. Anna-Maria Marshall, “Closing the Gaps: Plaintiffs in Pivotal Sexual Harassment Cases”, Law &
Social Inquiry, 1998, Volume 23, Issue 4

Background Information for this study: When he wrote Debtors in Court almost 30 years ago,
Herbert Jacob laid the foundation for the legal mobilization research that has flourished in recent
years. In arguing that litigants were political actors, Jacob showed that their social identities and
Communications networks influenced their decisions to use the power of the law to vindicate their

This paper builds on Jacob's original insights to analyze the origins of the claim for sexual harassment
as a Title VII violation. By focusing on the women who filed those claims, the paper examines the
interaction of class, gender, and race that created social distance between the women and their
harassers and employers. This distance made informal resolution of their disputes impossible,
requiring the intervention of third parties. In addition, their Communications networks led them to
attorneys able to generate and expand the new claim for sexual harassment. This analysis of a
particular moment in legal history reveals the potential political significance of private litigation.

48. Aysan Sev’er, “Sexual Harassment: Where We Were, Where We Are and Prospects for the
New Millennium”, CRSA/RCS University of Toronto- Special Issue on Sexual Harassment, 1999

In this article, the author summarizes the major highlights of the burgeoning literature on sexual
harassment and briefly reviews the remaining issues and how they may be addressed. Definitions
and conceptualizations, as well as the incidence and perseverance of sexual harassment are
summarized along with correlates, response strategies and effects. Organizational and patriarchal
power models as well as role and attribution theories are discussed, leading to a proposal of a
multifaceted social responsibility model to better deal with the complexities of sexual harassment.
The paper ends with an assessment of the contribution of this special issue to the field, and
identifies remaining barriers to safe work and leisure environments for women.

49. Brian A. Altman, Mesut Akdere, “Towards a Theoretical Model of Performance Inhibiting
Workplace Dynamics”, Human Resource Development Review December 2008 Vol. 7 No. 4

A construct and model of performance inhibiting workplace dynamics is introduced to conceptualize

the adverse consequences on performance and quality of certain interpersonal interactions in the
workplace and behavioural instructions leading to double binds. Results of a literature review are
presented which provide evidence for the existence of a set of workplace interactions that are
associated with reduced performance and quality. It is hypothesized that the negative influences on
employee performance in the model occur by alteration of one or more of the following three of
Swanson's performance variables at the individual level: mission/goal, capacity, or motivation. As a
field that considers performance as an important outcome of its practice, human resource
development scholars and practitioners need to understand such dynamics in order to eliminate or
reduce their effects on employee performance.

50. Namrata Gupta, A. K. Sharma, “Gender Inequality in the Work Environment at Institutes of
Higher Learning in Science and Technology in India”, Work Employment & Society December
2003 Vol. 17 No. 4

Analyses of the work environment in any professional organization in terms of western conceptual
categories remain incomplete, in the case of a developing country, without an understanding of the
social context in which the organization is placed. This article analyses the problems faced by women
academic scientists in the work environment at four institutes reputed for excellence in teaching and
research in science and technology in India. Patriarchal Indian society forms an essential backdrop to
an understanding of this subject. The article examines the rule-related aspects referred to as the
‘formal environment’, and the ‘informal’ interaction in the work situation. The findings reveal that
social stereotypes infiltrate the workplace and that there are latent aspects in the work environment
that place women academic scientists at a disadvantage. These disadvantages are a function of a
structure of Indian society, a general ‘lack of critical mass’ of women scientists and a lack of
‘universalism’ in science.

51. Gwendolyn M. Combs, “The Duality Of Race and Gender for Managerial African American
Women: Implications of Informal Social Networks on Career Advancement”, Human Resource
Development Review December 2003 Vol. 2 No. 4

Research suggests that women have progressed in equalizing their representation, status, and
earning power as managers in organizations. These improvements may not reflect the career
advancement of managerial African American women. African American women contend with the
convergence of race and gender in improving their organizational standing and career advancement
opportunities. The literature on workplace social networks indicates that informal more than formal
socialization systems are salient in advancing careers. Due to the duality of race and gender, African
American women in managerial and executive positions may be forced into out-group status in
terms of informal social networks. Informal social networks for managerial African American women
may be less accessible and may operate under different dimensions than for their African American
male and White female and male counterparts. Critical examination of the effect of the interaction
of race and gender on informal networks of managerial African American women in organizations is

52. Margaret Collinson, David C., “`It's Only D***!: The Sexual Harassment Of Women Managers
In Insurance Sales”, Work Employment & Society March 1996 Vol. 10 No. 1

Most studies of sexual harassment in organizations have used quantitative methods to measure the
incidence of cases. Less attention has focused upon the qualitative dynamics of workplace sexual
harassment. Drawing upon detailed qualitative and quantitative data, this paper explores the
complex organisational interactions and interrelationships through which the vicious circles of sexual
harassment can be reproduced. Highlighting women managers' experiences of sexual harassment, as
well as their responses and coping strategies, the paper reveals the pervasive, persistent and
privileged character of men's sexuality in the UK insurance sales industry. On the basis of these
findings and those of several other related studies, we argue that sexual harassment in non-
traditional work for women may be more extensive and aggressive than in traditional forms of
female employment.

53. Fred C. Lunenburg, “Sexual Harassment: An Abuse Of Power”, International Journal Of

Management, Business, And Administration, 2010, Volume 13, Number 1

This article examines the nature of sexual harassment, a legal definition, major forms, negative
effects on the organization, and ways manager’s can eliminate and prevent sexual harassment in the
workplace.Sexual harassment can have a negative impact on an organization as well as on the
victims themselves. Managers have a legal responsibility and an ethical obligation to protect their
employees from a hostile work environment. But they also must protect themselves. Managers are
strictly liable for sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If employees are
being sexually harassed in an organization and such behaviour is discovered, both the manager and
the organization can be held liable for damages.

54. Tracee Alexandria Davis, “Gender Inequality In Law Enforcement And Males’ Attidues And
Perceptions Toward Women Working In Law Enforcement”, Presented to The University Of
Texas At Arlington, December 2005

The findings of the study suggest that age does matter in regards to how male officers’ view their
female counterparts. Also, the study has confirmed the literature in regards to the negative attitudes
of male officers towards female officers. However, prior research suggested that the older officers’
were more reluctant to accept women working in law enforcement. Whereas, this particular study
revealed that the younger officers were much more sceptical of a woman’s ability to excel in law
enforcement. The literature proposes that maybe the older officers have had much more
experience working with female officers who have proved to be a valuable asset to their team. While
on the contrary, the younger officers could have had little or no experience working with the
opposite sex. Specifically, women only compromise sixteen percent (16%) of sworn police officers
which could result in the development of negative attitudes toward female officers due to the
under-representation of female police officers.

A number of key points have emerged which show that although some aspects of harassment are
well documented, others are quite under researched. Harassment can have a serious impact on the
individuals involved and the organisation where it occurs. The evidence strongly suggests that to
avoid this, organisations take a proactive, i.e. preventative, rather than a reactive, i.e. response
driven, approach to developing effective sexual harassment policies and procedures.

This report has identified and reviewed the available literature on sexual harassment to provide an
overview of the current state of knowledge. A number of key points have emerged which show that
although some aspects of harassment are well documented; others are quite under-researched. A
clear example of this is that the true scale of sexual harassment in India is unknown. There are no
definitive incidence surveys. Estimates regarding its incidence and how widespread a problem it is
differ widely, and without clear baseline data it is not possible to determine whether sexual
harassment in Indian workplaces is increasing or decreasing. It is clear however, that sexual
harassment can represent an abuse of power and can take many forms.

The findings from the study of the papers listed previously and further literature on the topic have
been segregated into four different sub-topics in order to have clearer picture of what the
researches have been able to conclude. They are as follows:

4.1. Relating Sexual Harassment with Bullying, Power Abuse and

Organisational Violation. The Various Forms of its Existence and Its
There are strong links between the concepts of sexual harassment and bullying, with sexual
harassment sometimes seen as falling within the wider context of bullying. Both are explicitly linked
to the power relations within an organisation. It is argued that sexual harassment represents an
abuse of power where members of one group of people, generally women, may be systematically
disempowered and at risk of abusive behaviour.

Sexual harassment and workplace bullying can be seen in terms of 'organisational violation'. This is
where the culture of an organisation makes it possible for individual employees to be treated
abusively or with disrespect. As the climate of disrespect within an organisation increases, the more
likely it is that certain inappropriate behaviours are taken for granted, leading to the creation of an
'incivility spiral', where uncivil behaviour becomes routine and regarded as the norm. This will not
only affect the person being harassed and the perpetrator of harassment, but other individuals
within the organisation.

Sexual harassment takes many forms, from sexually explicit remarks and jokes, to harassment over
the telephone and via email, to sexual assault. The key thing is that the behaviour is unwanted by
the recipient.

Estimates regarding its incidence vary widely. This is largely due to the different question wording
and definitions of sexual harassment used in surveys, the different sample populations approached
and response rates achieved, and differing research methods used in the studies. Sexual harassment

is more of a problem in some occupations or workplaces than others, so organisational studies can
produce widely differing results.

4.2. Characteristic Features of Sexual Harassment Occurrence:

Organisational culture is the key to understanding how and why sexual harassment occurs in some
organisations and not in others. If employees feel that it is not being tackled then they may believe
that such behaviour is tolerated and even condoned, which in turn can lead to tolerance of sexual
harassment within the organisation.
Sexual harassment is more prevalent in certain work situations, E.g., in jobs where there is an
unequal sex ratio; where there are large power differentials between women and men; during
periods of job insecurity; or when a new supervisor or manager is appointed.
Two types of leadership style are associated with harassment and bullying: an authoritarian style
where there is limited consultation with staff; and a laissez faire style where management fails to
lead or intervene in workplace behaviour.

Those who face sexual harassment do not necessarily fit a particular type'. However, literature
suggests that they are likely, though certainly not exclusively, to be female, young, single or divorced
and with relatively low levels of education. Harassers of harassment are likely to be male,
competitive, hard-driving and with low levels of self-monitoring behaviour. Typically, they will be
in a position of power in relation to the person they are harassing, who will be relatively

There is limited research examining the relationship between sexual harassment and other
individual characteristics:
 It is often difficult to disentangle racial and sexual harassment and research suggests that ethnic
minority women may be at greater risk of harassment than white women.
 Evidence suggests that same sex sexual harassment tends to go beyond issues of organisational
 Findings suggest that disabled employees are more likely to experience sexual harassment than
employees without a disability.

Society's norms and characteristics may also influence how likely it is for sexual harassment to occur
within the workplace, and for the person experiencing such behaviour to report it.

4.3. Experiences of Sexual Harassment: Perceptions, Effects and Coping

Strategies at Personal and Organisational level:
The literature has revealed that individuals have different perceptions of sexual harassment. E.g.,
women are more likely than men to label certain behaviours as sexual harassment, similarly non-
manual staff compared with manual staff. Behaviour is more likely to be seen as harassment when
there is a large power difference between the harasser and person they are harassing.

Women are sometimes reluctant to label their own experiences as sexual harassment. This is
because they define such acts in terms of seriousness, and do not think their own experiences are
serious enough. This is potentially problematic for research which seeks to clarify the prevalence of
the problem.

Sexual harassment can have a negative effect both in the short and long term on those who
experience it. They may experience illness, humiliation, anger, loss of self confidence and
psychological damage. It may also lead to workplace problems such as decreased performance
and job satisfaction, absenteeism and, in some cases, resignation.

Observing sexual harassment can also have a detrimental impact on other employees and lead to
negative feelings towards work plus psychosomatic problems. If employees believe that sexual
harassment is not being tackled in the organisation this may lead to decreased job satisfaction and
poorer physical health. The investigation of complaints frequently causes serious divisions between

Organisations may suffer the damaging consequences of sexual harassment through low morale, lost
productivity, damage to reputation and to business performance. There are also the costs of
investigating complaints and of any compensation awarded to those who take a complaint to
tribunal. In addition, it can have an impact on employee turnover, particularly that of female

Evidence from the studies suggests that the most effective methods of dealing with sexual
harassment are confronting and negotiating with the harasser (E.g., asking them to stop, threatening
or disciplining them), or by advocacy seeking (that is reporting the behaviour, asking another person
to intervene, or seeking legal remedy). The least effective methods of dealing with sexual
harassment, although the most commonly used, are thought to be avoidance or denial.

4.4. Prevention and Intervention of Sexual Harassment

There are three basic types of intervention that can be implemented by organisations to prevent or
deal with sexual harassment: preventative, responding to sexual harassment, and follow-up.

Preventative actions include a range of initiatives.

 Policy formation is crucial. There are two distinct approaches to this: a 'top-down' and a
'consultative' approach. The consultative approach is advocated by researchers, who
emphasise the importance of involving multiple stakeholders, including employee groups
and trade unions.

 Similarly, a bottom-up approach is the most successful, where staff and staff representatives
are fully involved with management in developing and owning relevant policies and
programmes. This should aim to develop a culture of respect and focus on the beliefs,
behaviour and norms within an organisation. Linked to this is the importance of a strong
zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment, although this may prove unpopular in
some situations.

 Training can be used to raise awareness and understanding of sexual harassment and to help
equip individuals with the necessary skills to deal with it. Few studies have looked at the
effectiveness of training but those that exist suggest that it is particularly effective for
changing men's attitudes.

Responses to sexual harassment include ways in which complaints are made and dealt with within
an organisation. It can be very difficult to make a complaint, especially if the organisation does not

have clear policies and procedures in place. For a complaints procedure to be effective it must be
clear and well-communicated, staff must have confidence that their complaints will be taken
seriously and treated confidentially, feel reassured that they will not be victimised and that the
whole process will be handled reasonably quickly.

Follow-up interventions in the aftermath of a complaint of sexual harassment include

rehabilitation of the person who has suffered sexual harassment, the harasser and others
involved. It is vital that procedures are in place to prevent victimisation or a backlash against the
person who complained of harassment.

A number of organisations have published good practice guides covering sexual harassment. These
include: changing the organisational culture to one where harassment is not tolerated; establishing
effective policies and procedures; training for all employees; commitment and support from senior
staff; providing those who experience harassment with independent support and effective
monitoring systems.

The following figure can summarize the findings:

The Antecedants and Consequences Model to understand Sexual Harassment at Workplace:

(Fitzgerald, L.F., Drasgow, F., Hulin, C.L., Gelfand, J.J., & Magley, V.J.)


The first stage of data collection involves creating a Questionnaire for understanding the current
scenario of Sexual Harassment at workplaces. The questionnaire was created in order to understand
the frequency of occurrence of harassment of women at workplace, awareness levels on sexual
harassment, and their experiences at the workplace as a victim of harassment.

The survey had 91 respondents from different sectors and fields and were contacted personally and
made to fill the survey online. The respondents filled the survey from their personal email addresses
and their experiences and details have been kept anonymous so that there is no objection from their
top management or human resource departments. This was done in order to avoid them from taking
permission from higher authorities, getting more accurate and personal responses and to gather
more information in lesser time.

This was the questionnaire mailed to them:

Survey on Sexual Harassment at Workplace
This survey has been designed as a method of data collection for my college Study Oriented Project on "Sexual
Harassment at Work Place". This survey is purely for the purpose of this project. It is completely anonymous
and does not ask for any details about your name, place of work and about your co-workers. Please answer
according to the experiences you have had the place(s) you have worked at. Answer freely, the specifics of
your answers will not be disclosed to anyone at any point in time.
* Required
Have you been sexually harassed at your work place? *



Can't Say

1. Which of the following instances according to you constitute sexual harassment? *You can select more than
one option

a. Receiving career threats such as indications that you will be fired or withheld promotion if you did
not comply with requests for a date of for sexual favours

b. Being repeatedly shown obscene sexual gestures, such as hand, tongue or body gestures that
made you feel uncomfortable or were offensive to you

c. Having someone repeatedly stand very close to you or corner you in a way which made you feel

e. Feeling like someone was frequently staring at parts of your body, making you feel uncomfortable

f. None of the above

2. Are you aware of any company policies in your workplace on sexual harassment? *

Yes I am aware

No I am not aware

3. Do you know who you need to approach or make a report to regarding sexual harassment in your
workplace? *

Yes I know

No I have no idea
4. What does sector does your organization belong to? *

a. Manufacturing/Mining

b. Software/IT/Electronics/Online

c. Service/Hospitality

d. Education

e. Banking/Finance

f. Consultancy/Advertising and Marketing/PR

g. Medicine

h. Government Service


5. Where in the hierarchy of the company were you when you were harassed?


Admin. Staff



Deptt Head/ Middle Manager

Top Manager

6. Do you know of others who have experienced Sexual Harassment at the workplace? *


6.1. If Yes, How many such people do you know?

1 or 2



Too Many
6.2 Which kinds of harassment did most of them suffer from? You can check more than one option




7. How often have you experienced sexual harassment?




8. Where did the incident(s) of harassment occur? *

a. In the office

b. Outside the workplace but at work related activities ( e.g. Office Party, Client Dinners, Events,
Business Trips etc.)

9. Identify which forms of sexual harassment you have encountered from the following list:Choose all the
forms that you have been subjected to

a. Sexually Assaulted

b. Forcibly Hugged

c. Forcible Kissed

d. Stand Close/Lean Over

e. Touched/groped body part

f. Brush past repeatedly

g. Obscene Sexual Gestures (Hand Gestures or Facial Expressions)

h. Exposure to private parts

i. Displaying Sexual Images

i. Displaying Sexual Images

k. Jokes via email or SMS

l. Obscene insulting sounds

m. Sexual suggestions/invitations

n. Questions about personal love/sex life

o. Intentional dirty jokes

p. Comments on physical appearance

q. Career Threats (such as Termination or Withholding Promotion)

r. Pestered for Dates

s. Being addressed by Unwelcome/Offensive terms


10. If you have any personal experiences to share on how you were harassed, please share here:

11. What emotions did you experience after you had been harassed by your co-worker? *You can check more
than one option. Specify any other feeling in the 'Other' box.

a. Disgusted /Sick

b. Afraid

c. Angry

d. Confused

e. Humiliated/ Embarassed

f. Guilty

g. Resigned to the situation (Accepted as inevitable)

h. Wish had someone to talk to

i. Wish something could be done

j. Affected performance at job

k. Insecure/Afraid would lose job

12. What was/is your work relationship with the harasser?

a. Superior

b. Colleague

c. Subordinate

d. Client/Customer


13. Have you ever reported being harassed to your employer?



13.1. Were you aware if the procedure the complaint before you were harassed?



13.2. Where did you report?

Human Resource Department

Employee Grievance Cell

Supervisor of the harasser

Top Management


13.3 Did they respond to your complaint?



Can't Say

13.4. How soon was your complaint responded to?

Within Days

Within Weeks

Within Months

No Response

14.5 Was there any follow up action/meeting/warning etc.? Describe Briefly


Profile of the respondents:

Organization Sector-wise:

Sector No. of Respondents Percentage

Manufacturing/Mining 15 16.5
Software/IT/Electronics/Online 25 27.5
Service/Hospitality 0 0.0
Education 15 16.5
Banking/Finance 11 12.1
Consultancy/Advertising and Marketing/PR 10 11.0
Medicine 0 0.0
Government Service 10 11.0
Other(Wind Energy Solutions) 5 5.5
Total 91 100.0


6% 17%

27% Banking/Finance

16% Consultancy/Advertising and

Government Service

Other(Wind Energy Solutions)

Organisational Hierarchy-wise:

Position No. of Respondents Percentage

Trainee 11 12.1
Administrative 11 12.1
Labourer/Worker 0 0.0
Manager 27 29.7
HOD/Middle Management 30 33.0
Top Management 12 13.2
Total 91 100.0

Awareness towards Sexual Harassment:
Awareness of forms of harassment:

Awareness No. of Respondents Percentage

High 54 59.3
Medium 27 29.7
Low 10 11.0
No Awareness 0 0.0
No Answer 0 0.0
Total 91 100.0
Respondents who were able to identify four or five instances of sexual harassment were assessed as
having a high level of awareness. The ability to identify two or three instances was assessed as a
medium level of awareness, while one meant a low level and no Instance identified meant that they
had no awareness at all.

Awareness of presence of company policies:

Awareness No. of Respondents Percentage

Aware 29 31.8
Not Aware 62 68.2
Total 91 100.0

Awareness on who to approach in order to report Sexual Harassment:

Awareness No. of Respondents Percentage

Aware 47 51.8
Not Aware 44 48.2
Total 91 100.0

Harassment of Respondents’ friends/colleagues/acquaintances:

Fellow(s) Harassed No. of Respondents Percentage

Yes 36 39.6
No 50 54.9
Can't Say 5 5.5
Total 91 100.0

No. of times fellows have been harassed No. of Respondents Percentage

1 to 2 4 11.1
Few 8 22.2
Several 21 58.3
Too Many 3 8.3
Total 36 100.0

Most heard of type of Harassment amongst fellows:
Type of Harassment No. of Respondents Percentage
Verbal 16 44.4
Visual 12 33.3
Physical 8 22.2
Total 36 100.0

Sexually Harassed Respondents

No. of respondents harassed out of the total 91:
Harassed No. of Respondents Percentage
Yes 70 76.9
No 20 22.0
Can't Say 1 1.1
Total 91 100.0

Frequency of Harassment:
Frequency No. of Respondents Percentage
Once 5 7.1
Twice 16 22.9
Several 40 57.1
Ongoing 9 12.9
Total 70 100.0

Number of times experienced Sexual Harassment




60 No. of Respondents


Once Twice Several Ongoing Total

Place of Occurrence:
Place of Occurrence No. of Respondents Percentage
Inside the workplace 29 41.4
Outside the workplace at parties, work related 41 58.6
events/dinners etc.
Total 70 100.0

Forms of Sexual Harassment Experienced:

No. of Respondents for each form of Harassment

Being addressed by Unwelcome/Offensive terms 29

Pestered for Dates 20
Career Threats 5
Comments on physical appearance 21
Intentional dirty jokes 20
Questions about personal love/sex life 18
Sexual suggestions/invitations 11
Obscene insulting sounds 10
Jokes via email or SMS 8
Staring at parts of body 25
Displaying Sexual Images 6
Exposure to private parts 4
Obscene Sexual Gestures 8
Brush past repeatedly 18
Touched/groped body part 20
Stand Close/Lean Over 27
Forcible Kissed 6
Forcibly Hugged 7
Sexually Assaulted 6

The table below shows the number of people who experienced 10 or more forms of sexual
harassment out of the respondents who experienced sexual harassment.

No. of forms of Harassment No. of Respondents

10 6
11 7
12 7
13 8
14 9
15 4
16 3
17 5
18 1
19 1

Emotions felt upon being harassed:

Percentage of Respondents Feeling an Emotion

Insecure/Afraid would lose job 12.4

Affected performance at job 13.8
Wish something could be done 29
Wish had someone to talk to 15.1
Resigned to it 12.5
Guilty 8.1
Humiliated/ Embarassed 5
Confused 24.6
Angry 55.1
Afraid 26.8
Disgusted /Sick 10

Relation of the respondents with the harasser(s):

Relation with Harasser No. of Respondents Percentage

Superior 36 51.4
Colleague 22 31.4
Subordinate 2 2.9
Client /Customer 10 14.3
Total 70 100.0

Seeking Redress
Number of victims reporting to employer about being harassed:

Reported No. of Respondents Percentage

Yes 17 24.3
No 53 75.7
Total 70 100.0

Number of Respondents Aware of Complaint Procedure before being harassed:

Aware No. of Respondents Percentage

Yes 16 22.9
No 54 77.1
Total 70 100.0

Department Reported to:
Department No. of Respondents
HR 7
Grievance Cell 0
Supervisor of the harasser 6
Top Management 4

Whether there was a response to the complaint:

Responded No. of Respondents
Yes 7
No 10

Response time to complaint:

Time No. of Respondents
Weeks 6
Months 1

Awareness of what comprises of sexual harassment was recorded high proving earlier observations
from studies that most women understand sexual harassment and can identify its existence at the
workplace. It was also observed that, companies don’t have a definitive sexual harassment policy
and employees reflect a relatively low awareness of the existence of the policy if there is one.
Nonetheless, those respondents aware of their company policies registered a much higher level of
awareness compared to those companies which were less interested.

A startling 76.9% of the respondents claimed to have had experienced some form of sexually
harassment. Being “repeatedly addressed by terms that are unwelcome or Offensive” was most
frequently experienced by 50.4% of the respondents who reported having been sexually harassed.

The second highest reported incident was that of having someone “repeatedly stand very close to
you/ lean over you/ corner you in a way which made you feel uncomfortable”. 43% respondents
indicated experiencing this form of physical sexual harassment. Feeling “that someone was
frequently staring at parts of your body, which made you feel uncomfortable” was ranked third
highest, with 39%. 11.4% reported receiving “career threats such as termination, withholding of
promotion,” if they did not comply with requests for a date or any more serious forms of sexual
favours. This form of ‘quid pro quo’ harassment is considered ‘particularly reprehensible, since it
represents a breach of trust and an abuse of power’ by those in a position to ‘give or take away
employment benefit’. 9.2% reported being sexually assaulted by their superior, colleague,
subordinate or client - a grim reminder of how severe sexual harassment in the workplace can get.

The responses indicate that respondents have experienced a wide range of forms of sexual
harassment. While some are perceived as more severe than others, they all create a negative work
atmosphere, otherwise known as a ‘hostile working environment’. This includes ‘verbal, non-verbal
or physical conduct of a sexual nature which interferes with an individual’s work performance or
creates an intimidating, hostile, abusive, offensive or poisoned work environment.’

It is worrying that many respondents experienced multiple forms of sexual harassment, with one
respondent indicating experiencing as many as all 19 forms listed in the survey. This indicates that
when left unchecked, sexual harassment may often escalate both in frequency and severity.

It was found that most of the victims of sexual harassment, irrespective of whether they lodged
formal complaints, encountered adverse consequences in the workplace. Such negative impact
ranged from their personal security being threatened to experiencing stress at work, as well as
emotional and psychological trauma. This also resulted in them being less productive and effective in
their work.

55.1% respondents who experienced some form of sexual harassment and answered this question
reported feeling angry about the incident. Many indicated they were afraid (26.8%) and confused
(24.6%) about the situation. A smaller percentage ( 8.1%) reported feeling guilty about the situation.
13.8% respondents who experienced sexual harassment felt it affected the way they did their job.

While it is clear that emotions run high in such situations, many indicated that they wish something
could be done about it (29%) or that they had someone to talk to (15.1%). However, 12.4%

respondents were concerned that they would lose their job or not be promoted if they took action –
a real concern in situations where no formal mechanisms for redress have been put in place. 12.5%
respondents also felt resigned to the situation.

Many respondents also reported experiencing a combination of these emotions, showing the
intensity of emotions evoked from such an experience.

This situation reveals that a substantial proportion of sexual harassment victims felt that they
were working within an environment which was hostile and unsupportive, giving rise to serious
implications on work, productivity and organisational relations in the company.

As predicted, majority of the people were harassed by their superiors. There was a considerably
large number harassed by co-workers at the same level of hierarchy. Few cases had women being
harassed by their subordinate usually done as a result of being intimidated by a woman with
authority. The harassment was not only limited to being carried out by employees of the
organisation but also extended to the clients and customers that the women interacted with for
business purposes. This has been found to common in Consultancy/Marketing jobs as well as
hospitality industry.

When asked to describe their personal experiences, a common phenomenon observed in them was
the use of internet and telecommunication. A lot of women are being harassed over SMSes and
emails. With the increase of online social networking, websites like Facebook and Orkut have added
a new dimension to co-worker socialisation. This has also resulted in a new avenue for harassment
where harassers also tend to take more liberties at times. Respondents also mention accounts of
being humiliated severely when their accounts were hacked by unknown co-workers and misused to
cause socially embarrassing situations. This shows that even though technology has helped people
connect, it has brought to many women a constant fear of being harassed. Companies need to keep
a check on office based social networking as well as online security and privacy protection of

It was observed that complaints made to the HR department were responded to where as the
supervisor to the harasser did not respond to them as required. Action was taken only in very few
cases due to the neglect by people at position of power.

As noted, most respondents (53 out of 70) did not complain to supervisors or the management
about their experiences of sexual harassment. As discussed in earlier sections of the report, a
number of factors were described to underlie this reluctance to complain. They are: Prevailing
Attitude, Power Dynamics and Fear of Job-related Discrimination, Lack of Awareness and Confidence
in Complaint Mechanism.

Many are not aware of the prevalence of a redressing system in their organisation and many don’t
feel the need for it. Some also believe that it is of no use and won’t solve their problems and hence
never approach it. This discourages employees to report about harassment.

The response time to complaints was poor reflecting that there is a lack of a standardised or even
average time frame in carrying out the complaint procedure.

Response to the query in the survey regarding action taken with regard to their complaints was
given by only a few respondents. All of them revealed different types of actions. In one case, the
situation was investigated into by enquiring around the department that the victim worked in and
observing the behaviour of the harasser. It was concluded that some forms of harassment had
prevailed upon which he was given a strict warning and informed that in case of another such
incidence his employment would be put on probation. In the case of internet based harassment, the
hacker was tracked by the network administration and a meeting between the harassed and
harasser intervene by the Human Resources Department was called. The accused was given a
warning and all his access to the internet and office network was revoked for 2 months. This shows
that even though, the number of harassed women who actually got a response to their report were
very few, there are companies out there with well structured redressal system. Other organisations
should use their models in order to develop their own policies and systems.

Findings confirm the persistence of sexual harassment in the workplace, the reluctance of women to
invoke the complaints mechanism and the ineffectiveness of existing complaints mechanisms in
punishing the harasser. Findings also suggest that attitudes to sexual harassment in the workplace
mirror society’s norms about sexuality and masculinity more generally — that it is normal and

Women in our study reported the experience of a range of behaviours — while leading forms of
harassment were verbal or psychological, disturbing numbers of women reported such harassment
as unwanted touch, and sexual gestures and exhibitionism. Experiences of sexual harassment
reflected, by and large, power imbalances that make younger women and those in subordinate
positions particularly vulnerable. Incidents of sexual harassment were most often perpetrated by
people in authority, and even clients and customers, who were perceived to have the power to
influence women’s job security in the organisation.

In short, while the Supreme Court guidelines have opened up the discourse on sexual harassment at
the workplace, it is clear that much remains to be done to address gender stereotyping and
harassment in the working environment and to ensure that women have recourse to effective
resolution of complaints. It is important E.g., that awareness of the inappropriateness of sexual
harassment and the rights of women workers is created and worked into the conduct rules for
employees at all levels, irrespective of their positions. More specifically, there is a need to raise
awareness of the Supreme Court guidelines and to build confidence among women workers that
complaints made will be treated impartially and confidentially.

The survey results have shown similar results as other surveys conducted in a few Asian countries on
a similar demographic. Most of the published surveys conducted on women in India focus on the
labour class of women, women in health care sector lower in the hierarchy or girls in academic
institutions. This study on the other hand has respondents working in a corporate setting and has
thus helped get more perspective on their current scenario.

Workplace sexual harassment is clearly a social challenge that warrants attention. Greater public
advocacy is needed to raise awareness about the issue and bring it out of the shadows.

There are actors at different levels that can play a role in its prevention, and in offering protection
and support for victims. It is important to identify these actors not only at the company or
organizational levels, but also at the state level. In addition, every individual has a part to play in
helping to create a no-tolerance environment for sexual harassment at the workplace, whether it is
providing support to recipients of sexual harassment, or speaking up against it.

The government can lead the way by implementing policies and programmes that define the
problem and enforce clear guidelines on preventative and remedial measures. This would help
create a no-tolerance climate for sexual harassment at the workplace and encourage more
employers to be socially responsible, and to maintain a safe and conducive work environment for
their employees.

Clearly the hidden costs of harassment are enormous. It is in every employer's interest to be
proactive and prevent the problem, rather than having to redress it after damages have been
suffered. Aware individuals can play a major role: by bringing the seriousness of harassment to the
attention of management and of staff, by helping to formulate and implement appropriate policies,
and by helping victims to deal with the consequences of harassment.

Many practical steps can be taken, as part of an integrated programme, to counter harassment:

A clear policy from management

 Management must develop, with consultants and in-company specialists, and with relevant staff
organisations and unions, a clear definition of, and policy on sexual harassment.

 Concerned people and the press should also help to publicise the need for such policies.

Awareness of the problem, and of own, and others' rights

 Managers and all male and female employees must become aware of the problems inherent in
harassment, and must know how to handle these.

 If clear policy exists, and is well promoted, both the person being harassed, and the person
considering harassing someone, will know what the individual's rights are – what is acceptable,
and what not; also where the person being harassed can complain. This should reduce
considerably the likelihood of harassment.

Complaints and disciplinary procedure

 There must be clear guidelines on reporting and disciplinary procedures in cases of harassment,
and these must be communicated to all staff members.

 Appropriate staff members can be selected, appointed and trained as complaints officers with
authority to institute disciplinary measures when necessary.

 In large companies, counsellors can be appointed and trained to provide support and to give
advice to staff who are sexually harassed, or to counsel harassers if required. These may be the
same people as the complaints officers, and could possibly also sensitise and train managers and
supervisors in the implementation of the policy.

Other supporting measures

 Assertiveness training and development of a healthy self-esteem will help women to deal with
harassers; and will also reduce the need in some men to try to prove themselves by harassing

 An effective employment equity programme, that ensures well-planned career paths for all –
based on merit, while also ensuring that people overlooked in the past get a fair deal – will
reduce the vulnerability of individuals to harassment by people who abuse their power and

 A positive corporate culture, in which management sets a positive example and the rights and
dignity of all staff are respected, will do much to create a healthy environment in which sexual
harassment cannot flourish.

Although no policy can be expected to eliminate the problem, awareness of the problem and of
ways to deal with it will help to reduce its extent dramatically. Women, together with personnel and
employee assistance professionals, must take initiative and get their companies to act against
harassment if a programme is not yet in place. Equally importantly, the appropriate professionals
must assist victims (and harassers) of past and present harassment to overcome the negative effects
of that experience.

Joint and consultative employer/trade union action in combating sexual harassment should take
place in order to effectively prevent, handle and eradicate sexual harassment. Trade unions should
also be urged to conduct their own education and awareness programmes among their members.A
policy is effective only if, besides awareness, it is properly understood and applied according to clear
guidelines and measures.

Throughout 2010, The Gender Equality Project worked with multinational companies committed to
gender equality, to test and refine the assessment methodology and make sure it reflects the
practices that have proven successful to date in the corporate world. These companies were given
the term ‘Pilot companies’.

A study showed that by each adopting a sexual harassment policy, the pilot companies have
generally shown their seriousness in combating sexual harassment in their workplace. What is
important is the commitment of the top leadership in ensuring that the policy is disseminated and
understood by all the staff, as was done by some companies in the study. On the other hand, one
company apparently did not receive instructions from its parent firm while in another; the expatriate
director only duplicated the policy for management for fear of disturbing the contentious situation
resided by the vast majority of production operators. This type of commitment was also conditioned
by the current economic downturn whereby productivity was a more important consideration,
particularly in the manufacturing sector.

It is also necessary for companies should adopt different complaint processes which are suitable to
the organisational goals and culture. E.g., one process can be such that five opportunities are given
to the harasser before he is charged while in another company the officer in charge is to take up the
case, allowing for a written apology if both parties are agreeable to reconcile. However, the harasser
is immediately charged if it is the second offence. In the case of some more stringent policies, if the
harasser is from management, he can be immediately fired.

Another important consideration is the lack of counselling facilities available to both the harassed
and the harasser. The measures to protect the harassed against retaliation are also found wanting.
While every company asserts that they would maintain confidentiality regarding sexual harassment
reports and would protect the harassed, concrete and clear measures are not spelt out. E.g., there is
no clause ensuring the complainant that she would not lose her job – a fear of most potential

Based on the above, it is clear that although there is a uniform and nationally accepted clear
definition is stated to determine sexual harassment, the law enforcement is not clearly defined.

Many employers in India have little experience in dealing with sexual harassment complaints; do not
have effective policies or complaint procedures for addressing sexual harassment, and even fewer
provide training or other information on sexual harassment to employees.

An explicit statement, providing a clear definition of what is prohibited and making clear the
employer's commitment to creating and maintaining a sexual harassment-free workplace (supported
by training and education) would serve to acquaint everyone with the employer's sexual harassment
policy. The chances of harassment occurring are reduced when everyone is aware of the rules.

The essence of legislation is its ability to compel employers to abide by a standard process in
handling sexual harassment complaints. It allows complaints to be handled in-house by management
but at the same time, ensures that the procedures are transparent, fair and just and that all parties
are held accountable for their behaviour.

All complaints should be investigated. Effective procedures reduce the need for "self-help"
measures. When harassment goes unchecked, victims may resort to external agencies like the
police, the human rights or labour rights department and the media in the hope of stopping the
harassment thereby making public the complaints to the employer's detriment and embarrassment.
Individuals may try to stop the harassment by intervening on the victim's behalf in ways that may
pose risks to everyone, including physical violence.

Besides identifying specific sanctions against harassers, the complaint procedure should also provide
for effective remedies, including counselling and protection against retaliation for victims and

Legislation can either lag behind or set standards in society. It is already obvious that the legal
definition of work and workplaces has not kept up with current notions.

The proposed bill in the parliament: “Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at
Workplace Bill, 2010” as discussed earlier is meant to be a progressive legislation that not only re-
defines legal concepts to reflect the dynamism of society but also educate and set new standards of

conduct and understanding. But it still has some flows that need to be amended till it can be finally
passed as a law.

Legislation alone however will not result in the eradication of sexual harassment at the workplace
without a more comprehensive action plan. There needs to other efforts like education, training and
outreach programmes. Many women still think that sexual harassment is the price that must be paid
for mobility. So they suffer in silence and lose out on performance and productivity. This way
employers as well as employees are affected.

Legislating on sexual harassment is only one of the steps, albeit a crucial step towards ensuring that
neither women nor men will have to run a battery of sexual abuse in return for the privilege of being
allowed to work and earn a living.

The two phases done in this study have helped in understanding the present situation on the topic in
the Indian as well as global corporate world. Much work has already been done on studying and
understanding sexual harassment at the workplace across the world. But there is scope for further
study especially those involving the extremely vast and varied Indian demographic.

Most of the studies on Sexual Harassment including this one are conducted to define level of
awareness, understand causes, observe reactions and consequences and find out the best practices
to prevent it or to put it briefly the Antecedents and Consquences Model. These studies are
extremely important as they help in understanding the current situation which is currently of need
as its relatively undocumented. But apart from these, review of some recent literature gave a
refreshing insight into research that was being done on the sociological and psychological aspects of
the problem. Thus, further work should be done to strengthen the current legal system for Sexual
harassment by lawmakers with the help of Social Science literature and Behavioural studies.

The issue has till now been viewed primarily from the perspective if the victim. Studies need to
broaden into understanding it from the side of co-workers as well as supervisors who may or may
not be involved in the perpetration of harassment.

Sometimes even a good and well in place policy does not help an organization keep a check on
Sexual harassment. In such cases research needs to be done in order to find out what factors are
being looked over in policy making as well as organisational culture-building that can change the
situation. This will help build better policies, in-house practices as well as legislations.

Two types of leadership style have been associated with harassment and bullying – an authoritarian
and a laissez faire style. As many organisations tend to adopt one of these styles, examination of
how and why certain leadership styles lead to an increase in sexual harassment would be useful. A
cross-disciplinary approach could be taken to ascertain whether there are differences between
industries and the public and private sectors

Another two unexplored areas are: The Link between Sexual Harassment and Productivity and The
Effect of Training on those who are most likely to harass other employees.
It can be quantitatively as well as qualitatively analysed if Sexual harassment is directly affecting the
productivity of a unit in an organisation over time. Employee performance evaluation can also throw
light upon fluctuations in productivity and performance which in turn can be linked to the employee
being a victim. This can be an effective way to find cases of harassment at the workplace as well as
keep a check on them.
Training programs to create awareness on Sexual Harassment have an immediate effect on the
perception of the employees, but studies need to identify if these effects stay over time. Further
research should be carried out to examine whether increasing one’s sensitivity directly affects their
sexually oriented work behaviour or weather the relationship between attitudes and behaviour is
dodgy and inconclusive. Conclusions can be drawn by addressing the study on a larger sample.

Lastly, use of technology for harassment is alarmingly rampant as of today. It is imperative to

understand the scale of this problem or the effect on those involved in order to ensure that policies
are effectively updated in order to tackle this form of harassment.


i. Angelo S. Denisi, Ricky W. Griffin, “Human Resource Managment” , 2nd Edition, biztantra
Dreamtech Publishers
ii. Mary L. Boland, “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”, 1st Edition, Sphinx Publishing
iii. Paramita Chaudhuri ,“Sexual harassment in the workplace: experiences of women in the
health sector”, 1st Edition, Population Council 2006
iv. Michele Antoinette Paludi, “Academic and workplace sexual harassment: a handbook of
cultural, social science, management and legal perspectives”, 1st Edition, Greenwood
Publishing Group

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