Sexual harassment is a serious issue that can affect anyone in the workplace.
Recognizing the signs of sexual harassment promotes a healthy workplace culture.
Inappropriate comments or jokes
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 98,411 sexual harassment reports between 2018 and 2021. Many of these cases began with inappropriate comments or jokes related to gender, appearance or personal life.
Unwanted advances, inappropriate touching or persistent requests for dates can be clear indicators of sexual harassment. No one should feel pressured or uncomfortable as a result of unwarranted attention from a coworker.
Display of explicit materials
Another sign is the display of explicit materials in the workplace. This includes inappropriate images, videos or other content. These materials may create an uncomfortable or hostile environment.
Targeted isolation or exclusion
Targeted isolation or exclusion can also signal sexual harassment. This occurs when an individual always gets left out of work-related activities or discussions as a result of their gender.
Retaliation for reporting
Employees who experience sexual harassment could fear retaliation for reporting the misconduct. Negative consequences could suggest a toxic work culture that needs addressing. Look for demotions or lack of opportunities.
Unfair treatment based on gender is a red flag for potential sexual harassment. This could include discriminatory practices in promotions, assignments or other work-related opportunities.
Inaction from management
If management fails to address or investigate complaints of sexual harassment promptly, it can perpetuate a culture that tolerates inappropriate behavior. Lack of action sends the message that such conduct is acceptable. Therefore, leaders should take complaints seriously.
Employees and managers should stay vigilant and take steps to address sexual harassment issues to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for everyone.