Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Get Rid of the ‘Old School’ Approaches

IBCWE and ILO are hosting a webinar to discuss how to prevent and address sexual and other harassment in the workplace.


Background

If your company approaches the problem of sexual misconduct with one-size-fits-all solutions, chances are high you aren’t protecting some of the most vulnerable members of your workforce. In the Center for Talent Innovation’s recent study, “What #MeToo Means for Corporate America,” we uncovered a nuanced, at times surprising, portrait of sexual misconduct. Our research illustrates the varied landscapes professional women and men of different backgrounds face when it comes to sexual misconduct. It reveals the ways race and gender intersect to complicate our standard narrative of motive, and our standard image of a  senior male perpetrator and junior female victim.

After all, sexual harassment is not simply about sex. It is often a tool wielded to assert power and dominance. As Teresa Fitzsimmons, director of workplace dynamics at Lausanne Business Solutions  notes, “Sexual harassment is a signal of an individual having a lack of respect for another… [it] evolves out of disrespect and asymmetric power.” That asymmetric power can refer to men harassing women, but as we discovered in our research, race and seniority can complicate the picture.

Overall, we found that 34% of female employees have been sexually harassed by a colleague. When we broke down that number by race and job level, a more complex story began to emerge. Among the Asian women we surveyed who had been harassed, nearly one in three (31%) say that the perpetrator was a junior colleague. This finding contradicts the common assumption that harassment only comes from above. The fact that so many women in this group report bottom-up harassment may stem from stereotypes  that Asian women are deferential, easy targets for younger colleagues looking to assert power. “There is the fetishization of Asian women that I see with a lot of white men,” Mila, a Vietnamese-American business development executive told us. “They expect us to be docile, easy, and exotic. But I hadn’t expected that to carry over at work.”

KPI Employee’s Confession

A male employee with the initials MS claimed to be bullied and harassed by seven employees of the Central Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI). MS retells the events he experienced in the form of a written statement.

He said, since the beginning of working at the Central KPI in 2011, there have been countless times they harassed, punched, cursed, and ducked. He didn't counter the attack either. "They were together intimidating which left me helpless. Our position is equal and it is not my job to serve my colleagues. But they together demeaned and oppressed me like a slave," MS said.

Harassment and bullying have been experienced by MS for years. According to him, the effort to report to the authorities seemed to get no response until then he ventured to reveal what was experienced to the public space.

Overall, sexual harassment can happen anywhere, to and by anyone, – there is no exempt place or person. Of course, compliant and savvy employers can minimize the chances of it happening (and its attendant potential for enormous liability) by having a zero-tolerance discrimination and harassment policy, clearly set forth in employee manuals and reflected in the behavior of its senior managers, and by conducting periodic anti-harassment training for all.

The author of Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment, describes how two former employers responded to her complaints about sexual harassment. At one workplace, several HR people took reports and conducted an investigation that was inconclusive and led to no punishment for her harasser. (She left the company.) At the other, a manager immediately called a meeting with the harasser and told him to stop, which he did. Lawrence uses these examples to argue that the “old school” investigatory approach often fails to protect women and stop harassment, which is typically victims’ primary goal. She argues for a “new school” approach whereby managers handle the issues themselves, focusing less on punishment and more on solving the problem.

Therefore, IBCWE and ILO are hosting a webinar to discuss how to prevent and address sexual and other harassment in the workplace.

Objective

The objectives of this event are:
  • to discuss how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace
  • to discuss new approaches in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace
  • to raise awareness that prevention of sexual harassment is a shared responsibility within the company

Participants

The principle target audience of this program is human resource directors, managers, and practitioners from:
  • IBCWE members
  • Private sectors
  • Public sectors
  • State-owned enterprises
  • Public
  • HR Communities

Speakers

Welcoming Speech

Mr. Andrie Darusman, Board Member of IBCWE
Mr. Kazutoshi Chatani, Employment Specialist of ILO

Panelists

  • Mrs. Mercy Aritonang, Human Capital and Strategy Director of The Body Shop Indonesia  (sharing the programs on how to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace)
  • Mrs. Emma Sri Martini, Finance Director of Pertamina  (sharing the programs on how to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace)
  • Mr. Alvin, Founder of Never Okay Project  (sharing the recommendations that company or employee can take to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace)

Moderator

  • Mr. Tedi Subagia, Partnership Manager of IBCWE

Agenda

14.05 Welcoming speech
14.10 Ice breaking, lead by MC
14.15 Panel discussions, open by Moderator
15.00 Q&A session, lead by Moderator
15.20 Quiz/polling winners, lead by MC
15.25 Closing by MC14.00 Opening by MC
14.05 Welcoming speech
14.10 Ice breaking, lead by MC
14.15 Panel discussions, open by Moderator
15.00 Q&A session, lead by Moderator
15.20 Quiz/polling winners, lead by MC
15.25 Closing by MC