Addressing Workplace Sexual Harassment in a Government Contracting Company Through Organizational Consulting

Addressing Workplace Sexual Harassment in a Government Contracting Company Through Organizational Consulting

Darrell Norman Burrell (The Florida Institute of Technology, USA), Rajanique Modeste (Capella University, USA), Amalisha Sabie Aridi (Capitol Technology University, USA), Dawn DiPeri (American InterContintental University, USA), Denise Jones (Walden University, USA) and Leonard Clay (Grand Canyon University, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJSEUS.2021010102
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Abstract

Sexual harassment and workplace hostility towards women have significant implications for an organization's employees to collaborate and trust each other. Recent news reports highlighting prominent figures accused of unwanted and inappropriate behavior towards women and men in the workplace has brought a much-needed awareness of what has been an ongoing and often silent issue of sexual harassment. Although one has witnessed what seemingly appears to be an unprecedented number of claims of sexual harassment with the rise of the #MeeToo movement, it is surprising that the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has estimated 75% of individuals who are harassed in the workplace do not file a complaint. This paper explores a case study of an organizational consulting intervention around workplace sexual harassment.
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Introduction

Recent news reports high lighting prominent celebrity figures accused of unwanted and inappropriate behavior towards women and men in the workplace has brought a much-needed awareness of what has been an ongoing and often silent issue of sexual harassment. In public there has been an unprecedented number of claims of sexual harassment with the rise of the #MeeToo movement, it is surprising that the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has estimated 75% of individuals who are harassed in the workplace do not file a complaint (EEOC, 2019). Sexual harassment claims have a dire impact on both the individual who raised the claim and to the organization. From an individual perspective, physical and mental health problems, low earnings, lack of career progression, and persistent gender wage gaps are what some women experience who have been targets of sexual harassment (Shaw, Hegewisch, Phil & Hess, 2019). Organizations can expect employee turnover, decreased productivity, absenteeism, and not to mention the legal cost to address and investigate claims that are disruptive to the continuance and sustainability of the organization.

Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted, nonconsensual sexual behavior that impacts the victim's life (Blum, 2019). It can be both verbal and nonverbal and includes unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors (Blum, 2019). Harassment can take many forms, such as verbal acts of name-calling or written statements or actions that may be physically threatening (Blum, 2019). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides a clear explanation of what to report about acts of sexual harassment (Equal Employment Opportunity, 2019). According to the EEOC (2019), it is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person's sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature (EEOC, 2019). Harassment does not have to be sexual, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general (EEOC, 2019). Quid pro quo and a hostile work environment are legal definitions of sexual harassment (Boyer, 2018). Quid pro quo refers to behaviors by a superior who promotes or demotes an employee contingent upon sexual favors in the workplace (Boyer, 2018).

Case Study Methodology

This case study represents a government consulting information technology company. The organization has had several significant sexual harassment complaints. For the case study, Global Defense Technologies will be used as the fictitious name to protect the privacy of this organization to frame this intervention. Global Defense Technologies only has 100 female employees and 850 male employees. The aspects of sexual harassment and organizational intervention within the organization were explored on a variety of multiple levels, including aggression, organizational justice, and corporate culture. This case study explores the complex dynamics of the intervention using an applied research approach.

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