Prevention Mechanisms, Policies and Strategies
last updated 10 February 2009

Prevention mechanisms, policies and strategies are crucial to the effort to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

Gender equality machinery at the governmental level is one mechanism which governments are employing in their effort to prevent sexually harassing behavior in the workplace.  Many governments have followed the U.S. example of establishing a government agency to monitor employers' policies and responses to sexual harassment and to entertain sexual harassment complaints. In legal regimes which recognize sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination or a labor code violation, monitoring agencies take the form of equal opportunity commissions, labor ministry departments or gender equality ombudsmen.

Many legal systems also encourage employers to establish a policy against sexual harassment and to take other steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in their office and in work related sites. These steps include communicating to employees that sexual harassment will not be condoned, establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate action to investigate complaints made by employees.

Non-governmental and governmental organizations also recommend various steps an employee may take in reacting to harassing behavior which may help put an end to the behavior or preserve the employee's ability to seek legal action against the harasser or his or her employer.

Finally, trade unions and the media can play a powerful role in preventing sexual harassment through advocacy on behalf of employee victims, the training of managers, and the encouragement of changes in views of sexually harassing conduct and the reporting of such conduct.

For the 2008 United Nations expert group report entitled "Good practices in legislation on violence against women", including information on sexual harassment, click here.  For the Russian version of the report recommendations, click here to download.