Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in the workplace, affecting millions of individuals every year. While many people associate sexual harassment with overt and explicit behaviors, such as physical assault and inappropriate touching, it can also manifest in more subtle ways. In fact, many cases of sexual harassment go unreported because the behavior is not immediately recognized as harassment. In this article, we will explore some of the subtle signs of sexual harassment in the workplace and provide examples to help you identify these behaviors.
1. Unwelcome or inappropriate comments
One of the most common subtle signs of sexual harassment is unwelcome or inappropriate comments. These can include comments that are sexually suggestive or explicit, comments that are demeaning or derogatory, or comments that make the recipient feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. These comments can come from colleagues, managers, or even clients, and can be made in person or via email or other electronic communication.
For example, imagine that a female employee is working on a project with a male colleague. Throughout the project, the colleague repeatedly makes comments about her appearance, such as “you look really sexy in that outfit” or “you have great legs.” The comments make the employee feel uncomfortable and she starts to dread working with the colleague.
2. Persistent or unwanted advances
Another subtle sign of sexual harassment is persistent or unwanted advances. These can include physical advances, such as unwanted touching or hugging, or non-physical advances, such as repeated requests for dates or invitations to social events. The key factor is that the advances are unwanted and the recipient has made it clear that they are not interested.
For example, imagine that a male employee repeatedly asks a female colleague out on a date, even after she has politely declined several times. The employee may make comments like “come on, give me a chance” or “we would be so good together.” The female colleague starts to feel uncomfortable and intimidated and may even start to avoid the male employee altogether.
3. Withholding opportunities or benefits
A third subtle sign of sexual harassment is the withholding of opportunities or benefits based on sexual advances or favours. This can include the withholding of promotions, raises, or other benefits, or the granting of these benefits in exchange for sexual favours. This type of harassment can be difficult to identify because it is often done behind closed doors or through private communication.
For example, imagine that a female employee is passed over for a promotion, even though she is highly qualified and has been with the company for many years. She later discovers that the promotion went to a male colleague who had a romantic relationship with their supervisor. The female employee starts to feel as though her hard work and dedication have gone unrecognized, and may even begin to question her own abilities.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can have devastating effects on individuals and organizations. While many people associate sexual harassment with overt and explicit behaviors, it can also manifest in more subtle ways. By understanding these subtle signs, you can better identify and address instances of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Remember, if you or someone you know is experiencing sexual harassment, it is important to report it to your company’s HR department or other appropriate authority. Together, we can work to create safer and more respectful workplaces for everyone
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 10 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For any of our other services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +91-95001-29652 and we will help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.