Vincy Workplace
July 5, 2013

Sexual harassment in the workplace

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a number of requests to address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. All of those requests came from women, some of who are fed up with the subtle and very blatant advances they have witnessed or experienced in the workplace. It seems difficult for some men to recognize that a woman can be intelligent, attractive, and be focused on building her career. It’s become a game for some men to prey on women, especially a younger, inexperienced woman looking to make a name for herself and improve her professional status.{{more}}

Sexual harassment is any unwelcomed sexual advance, request for sexual favours, verbal statement or physical contact that is of a sexual nature, or displaying objects or pictures that are sexually suggestive. That means from unwanted hand holding to displaying sexually suggestive pictures or “sweet talk.” If it offends and is unwanted, then it is sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is often prevalent in situations where the man is in a position of power and he uses that power to exploit women. Oftentimes women remain silent because they need the job to support themselves and their families and speaking out could result in their release, but not all sexual harassment scenarios are like that. There are some men who get excited by the chase. The more professionally advanced a woman is, the more appealing she is to some men, not because he is serious about her, but because he is simply seeking another feather in his cap. Some men would go as far as to verbalize those sentiments.

People should be able to come to work and earn an honest living without the burden of being harassed. It is also important to note that, although it is never reported, there are women who prey on men and their actions can be considered as sexual harassment. However, there aren’t that many men (if any) who would voluntarily say he is being sexually harassed by a woman.

Here are a few commonly asked questions about sexual harassment and how to handle it.

Q. Can males be sexually harassed?

A. Yes. Sexual harassment affects men and women, boys and girls.

Q. Is sexual harassment only between persons of the opposite sex?

A. No. Sexual harassment can also occur female to female or male to male.

Q. What should I do if I think I’ve been sexually harassed?

A. First, let the perpetrator know you are not interested, and if it persists, report the incident to a supervisor, mediator or the police immediately.

Q. What should I do if my supervisor is the offender?

A. Report the incident to the Human Resources office or senior leader in the workplace immediately.

Q. When should I report incidents of sexual harassment?

A. Immediately. Do not wait; go up the chain of command.

Q. Is flirting sexual harassment?

A. It can only be classified as sexual harassment if the person you have an interest in considers this behaviour unwanted and unwelcomed.

Q. Is dressing in a suggestive manner inviting sexual harassment?

A. Let’s be realistic. The way you dress may cause some heads to turn, but it’s not an invitation to be sexually harassed. At the same time, use good judgment and avoid dressing in clothes that are clearly questionable.

Q. How do I know if the person does not like my behaviour?

A. You can always ask. The person can let you know verbally or with her or his body language. When you are told “no,” you must accept it, even if you don’t believe it.

Q. Can I be fired if I tell?

A. No. The law is designed to protect your job. If you are the victim, you should not be penalized for exercising your right to protect yourself.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to

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