What is sexual harassment in the workplace? What actions count as sexual harassment? Is it considered a crime? What legitimate conducts can be applied if someone was exposed to sexual harassment? Sexual harassment does not necessarily mean sex. It is about having control over the victim, in other words, it refers to the undesirable duty of sexual necessities within the setting of a relationship of unequal power. Moreover, sexual badgering alludes to a circumstance where unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical act of sexual nature occurs, which abuses the nobility of an individual eventually creating a frightening, degrading, and hostile environment. With all that being said, sexual harassment within the workplace may be considered unlawful when it overcomes normal actions between the victims and their harassers. It can cause a threatening workplace setting that would lead to tough business choices such as the victim’s demotion, firing or quitting. Employees must feel free to express their feelings and opinions at work, and not to mention speak up if they were under any kind of sexual molester or even if they sense inappropriate behavior from colleagues. Even though it can be hard to do, they should know that there are certain individuals within the workplace that are capable to stand by and help them. The Human Resource department plays a major role in doing so. What consequences can sexual harassment implement, and how can the Human Resource department contribute in defending employee’s rights and decrease sexual harassment in the workplace?
Maintaining a healthy and strong relationship between the Human Resource department and other employees in the company or any other work atmosphere is crucial for both parties. The connection between them does not only have to concern business matters, but it can also include grievances or sensitive issues. The Human Resource department may expose and punish individuals who violate certain sensitive policies, and manage to help those who weren’t capable enough of defending themselves against these individuals. These policies can include conflicts with respect towards race, gender, religion or practicing sexual harassment. Unlike in the West, sexual harassment in general and in the workplace in particular fails to receive any attention whatsoever and is rarely discussed in Lebanon.
Unfortunately, in Lebanon there is a lack of professional Human Resource figures directing the HR (Human Resource) profession according to the rules in order to ensure the coordination of practices and by that spreading the best performances (Afiouni and Nakhle, 2016). This results in the defectiveness in answering people’s demands and requests. It can pressure and push organizations to take on regulations that will improve its HR system. Human Resource Management in Lebanon is considered as an unsatisfied potential of its occupation. Until the year 2000, the HR’s purpose in Lebanon was mainly a supporting division, accountable for conducting payroll and social security, employee files and complaints, and other essential executive issues. However, the HR’s position then evolved from Personnel to HRM department, still maintaining its current duties (Afiouni and Nakhle, 2016). Sadly, the HR department was not developing in Lebanon due to inadequate figures running the HR line, and even insufficient amount of education and knowledge concerning this profession. Therefore, people are not attentive of its significance and the advantages it can provide.
Over the past few years, women are getting more and more involved in the workforce. And with the constant modification on the economic and educational level, along with the fluctuating job demands in the current business world, new majors and specialties are rising. Due to these changes, women are now being employed for positions prior occupied by men (Bharat, 2003). However, men still possess more senior management positions (Winn, 2004; Fernandez, 1993). Regrettably, most men have a hard time accepting that situation and as a result, they might impose undesirable and illegal actions towards their female colleagues such as sexual harassment, simply to show them that they are the dominant figures in the workplace. What they might not know is that practicing sexual harassment in the workplace can affect both the organization and individual negatively. On the organizational level, it can decrease work productivity and raise arguments among colleagues, and not to mention diminish achievements and reaching financial aims. Moreover, the organization’s image and reputation will suffer when victims take the matter to court. However, on the individual level, it can lead to the deprivation of a career and earnings, private lives would be shared with the public which can cause depression, anxiety, and shame. In addition to that, the individual’s name would be ruined in the public’s eye.
Luckily, the HR department can diminish and control all these impacts by taking possession of sexual harassment and assault prevention. There are several rules that must not only be set, but applied in order to achieve a peaceful work environment. To begin with, the HR department must unite the company by accepting the diversity among colleagues. It would help create a comforting atmosphere in confiding others about being exposed to sexual badgering within the workplace. In addition to that, managers and frontline employees must be delegated since taking ownership in prohibiting sexual harassment among managers and employees is crucial to help prevent this action in the workplace. Furthermore, employees with past incidents regarding sexual harassment should be considered the company’s top priority to guarantee that they- along with future victims-will not be restricted from speaking up, as well as cancelling employee adjudication sections that prohibit them from pressing charges against the harasser. Moreover, the HR department must work on providing a recovery program that will help the victims with their painful experiences by designing a benefit plan that grants endowments for treatments, such as counselors, therapists, and advocates without charging those who have been through workplace harassment. Not to mention that managers ought to cope with these approaches that permits laborers to require time off to go to counseling. Also, communication among colleagues must be kept within certain limits by maintaining an amicable language and avoiding indecent jokes and comments that could be offending to certain individuals. Lastly, they should reinforce instructional programs that would prepare employees how to act in case they face uncomfortable situation. Educational tutoring may be offered to certain types of audiences in the workplace to enlighten them more about the topic, provide different case scenarios such as same-sex harassment or harassment against females, and state the consequences of these actions. In other words, spread awareness among the company.
With all that being said, it is necessary for the HR department in the Lebanese organizations to consider that employee’s lives can and will affect their job performances which are the HR department’s duty and obligations to comprehend what encourages them. Throughout this understanding, institutions have the capacity to take on motivational strategies and effective inside communication procedure which can help acquire competitive advantages and guarantee the success of the business. Therefore, the HR department is obliged to apply more exertion in approaching distressed workers and ought to direct them. In my opinion, sexual harassment must be fought in every possible way. That requires the help and unison of all Lebanese citizens starting in the workplace, by applying all the rules stated above and hopefully report new ones. If companies took sexual harassment seriously as an illegal act, they might change the way they prepare for and handle it. There is absolutely no reason to keep harassers employed and in charge and ignore their actions when there are plenty of intelligent and talented individuals around, just because they bring in lots of business and money. This will also help Lebanon flourish and rise as a country that fights for its citizen’s rights and help clear its image that has been undermined around the world.
- Boyle&Cucchiara, (2018). https://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cahrswhitepapers/14/
- Hamzeh, M.H. (2018). https://scholarworks.aub.edu.lb/bitstream/handle/10938/21339/pj-1940.pdf?sequence=1
- Hejase, H.J. (2015). http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.966.6171&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Hennaoui, A.J. (2018). https://scholarworks.aub.edu.lb/bitstream/handle/10938/21371/t-6813.pdf?sequence=1
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