New Report: Changing culture in order to end Sexual Harassment
Wednesday, October 2, 2019 4:00 PM

UN Women released a publication this month focusing on implementing cultural change in order to stop sexual harassment in all areas of life, from employment to education to politics. In general, the main targets of sexual harassment are women, minorities, and people with disabilities. A central issue of the report is the effect of power and inequality within organizations, and how it influences an individual’s credibility and vulnerability to harassment. The report encourages what is known as a Victim or Survivor-focus, which means listening to the victim so that they feel heard, understood, and believed, and prioritizing their well-being in order for them to feel supported and able to share.

The report also details a variety of ways in which an organization can communicate that it values equality. A simple example is hiring across the board in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, and similar, as a way of communicating that diversity is a strong value of the company.

The report lists "Six Actions" that are needed to change the culture around sexual harassment within an organization:

  1. Leadership and Messaging - sexual harassment is not tolerated and it will not happen in the organization
  2. Understand and Practice Zero Tolerance - all reports of sexual harassment are heard and investigated
  3. Understand and Embed Victim-Centred Approaches - engage victim-survivors in developing effect policies and procedures
  4. Update Training - train regularly and professionally on best practices
  5. Practice and Promote Collective Ownership - engage everyone in the organization in promoting intolerance to sexual harassment
  6. Organizational Transparency - transparent and consistent policies and procedures that promote trust

Compiled from: Sen, Purna, What Will it Take? Promoting Cultural Change to End Sexual Harassment, UN Women (September 2019).