Evaluating Sexual Harassment for the LGB Community at the Workplace
There is a rich history of women and the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexuals (LGB) fighting for better working conditions and against social prejudice at the workplace. In Week 3 Lecture Notes, it is apparent that the LGB community face various challenges which are the foundations of advocacy for protection. Among these challenges is inequality in employment rights, sexual harassment, wage equity and gap, and sensitivity solidarity and training. Despite the central goal of addressing these issues being to promote the quality of life of these individuals and improve their economic lives, the approaches differ in their effectiveness. According to Lorenzetti, Wells, Logie, and Callaghan (2017), the government works in collaboration with other humanitarian organizations to protect the rights of these individuals and provide adequate support. Some of the key strategies have included establishing new work arrangements, working collectively, and self-employment. This paper explores the issue of sexual harassment among the LGB community at the workplace, current approaches used to address the issue, the effectiveness of these approaches, and new ways of reducing the social prejudice. Sexual harassment among the LGB community at the workplace remains a challenge despite the policy changes, informal, education, and awareness interventions thus research is required to establish the effectiveness of current strategies and how they can be enhanced.
Sexual Harassment among the LGB
The impacts of sexual harassment are felt by every community and demographic. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that the LGBTQ community is at higher risk of facing this social prejudice as compared to the heterosexuals (Health & Aging, 2016). In 2014, Canadian statistics revealed the prevalence of sexual harassment among these individuals and the impacts on their lives. Simpson (2018) draws from the 2014 Social Survey on Canadians’ Safety and note that the lesbians or gays (142E) and the bisexuals (267E) had a high probability of being sexually harassed as compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Further statistics reveal that despite controlling other demographic factors such as age, homelessness, childhood abuse, and marital status, sexual violence among the LGB community was twice higher compared to the heterosexuals. Between 2009-2014, self-reported violent victimization of gays and lesbians was 67% compared to a 30% decrease among the heterosexuals.
The prevalence of sexual harassment has been made a priority by feminists based on the issue pervasiveness at the workplace and the impacts on the individual’s well-being, safety, success in the labor realm, and rights. In Week 2 Lecture, it was revealed that Canada provides statistics regarding both men and women without considering the non-conformity in gender. In Week 3, it is demonstrated that women efforts against sexual harassment are the foundation of including the issue in workplace policies and legislation. The social prejudice faced by the LGB community is motivated by a number of factors including hatred towards the individual’s sexual identity and diversity, intolerance, spiritual and religious centers, health institutions, and public spaces (Kosciw, Palmer, & Kull, 2015). Based on the Trans PULSE Project that explores the social determinants of health for the gender and diverse transgender people in Ontario, it was revealed that 20% of the trans Ontarians had faced sexual or physical assault for their identity while another 34% were harassed verbally (Bauer & Scheim, 2015). In this project also, it was established that the majority of the trans-gender harassment are not reported and the police do 24%.
At the workplace, the effects of sexual harassment among the LGB community are low productivity and psychological challenges such as stress. According to Bucik (2016), factors and circumstances that aggravate sexual harassment among the LGB community at the workplace include racism, transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia. Also, this community lacks a trans-positive attitude yet it is critical for them to recognize their diversity and embrace it. According to Scheim et al. (2013), there lack inclusive policies in the workplace setup which is a barrier to accessing employment and creating safe and healthy working environments. In Ontario for instance, 18% reported being turned down for a job based on their transgender identity. 13% reported being fired as a result of being trans while another 15% lost their jobs based on the assertion that it was unsafe for them (Simpson, 2018). Another core issue related to occupational sexual harassment is the less likelihood of the LGB community to report the incident based on inefficient procedures and policies.
The importance of understanding sexual harassment among the LGB community at the workplace is to explore diverse approaches that can be used to address the challenge. Presently, a number of intervention mechanisms have been developed and implemented such as revising workplace culture and structure and ensuring effective reporting procedures (Lorenzetti et al., 2017). Recommendations from various studies have also been implemented although the comprehensive mitigation of the issue remains elusive. The effectiveness of these interventions also differs based on their constructs. For instance, although government policies and reporting procedures ensure that the LGB can report their challenges for effective actions, the majority do not report, and it has been established that there is a significant number of sexual harassments caused by the police. It is therefore essential to explore other options that can profoundly address sexual harassment at the occupation level such as training the LGB community on self-defense and enhancing the community awareness on the issue.
Sexual Harassment Prevention Strategies
The prevention of sexual harassment at the occupational level is mainly through collaboration between the government and other stakeholders such as organizational managers and humanitarian organization. The Ontario Human Rights Commission through the policy of preventing gender-based harassment recognizes the importance of education to an individual on the social, personal, and academic dimensions. In the educational setup, integrating sexual harassment in the curriculum prepares the young individuals for the effective transitioning process to the workplace and prevention of the sexual harassment across various settings (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2015). Through education, people understand their rights and prevention strategies for sexual harassment. These include the definitions of the term and the necessary actions to take (Arora, Kelly, & Goldstein, 2016). For instance, sexual harassment can be described by rape, inappropriate physical contact, and stalking. Understanding this information is critical for an individual to identify social prejudice regardless of the form before it escalates. The advantages of this strategy are enhancing one’s awareness on the harassment and prevention, establishing an informed population from the educational to workplace settings, and prompting the individual’s advocacy and policy development. The disadvantages of this approach are the assumption of other issues such as poor reporting mechanisms and the police being involved in the sexual harassment of the LGB community.
Another strategy for preventing sexual harassment at the workplace is through policy and legislation changes. Ramnauth (2018) notes that in 2017, it was revealed the women face various challenges in coming forward to report sexual harassment incidences. As a result, the Canadian government has developed regulations to address the challenge by proposing changes to the Canadian Labor Code, Bill C-65. Based on these improvements, the federally regulated employers including airlines, banks, prisons, and transportation services are obligated to conduct investigations on sexual harassment complains at the workplace. Failure to comply to these guidelines attract heavy fines to the company which has financial implications. The policy change and advancements also prosecute any employer who fails to act on the new regulations. Further, there is a dispute resolution procedure in place which requires the involvement of an outside investigator to examine the allegations and ensure privacy rules are applied to protect the victims from further violence and harassments. Policy advancements and changes are also reflected in the Occupational Health and Safety Act where in 2017, the employers’ duties were expanded to investigating and addressing workplace incidences (Ramnauth, 2018). Through new definitions of workplace sexual harassments, there is clarity which enlightens the victim on the issue. Also, the new OHSA advancements require both the perpetrator and victim be given a written investigation notice that also outlines the corrective actions selected by the employers. These advancements purpose to enhance accountability and transparency related to the complaint’s procedures. The paper trail ensures that all investigations are followed and complete.
The application of reporting procedures and policies can be demonstrated by the recent female employees with Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who sued the Canadian Federal Government for sexual harassment. According to Janusz (2017), approximately 60% of the RCMP female members reported being sexually harassed as employees. Through a history of broken promises between RCMP and the federal government to address discrimination and sexual harassment, Janusz (2017) note that $ 100 million was set aside in December 2016 to address these reports and is expected to investigate 1000 RCMP cases. This incident demonstrates the negative impacts of a workplace culture where in RCMP, discrimination and sexual harassment are influenced by the geographical isolation of various organizational positions. In addition, the marginalization, silencing of women, and demeaning pose a threat to addressing the challenge. Although the changes to sexual harassment related policies will have a significant effect on addressing the challenge, it is still not clear on ways to enhance the reporting procedures and address the reporting discrimination since the perpetrator is in the authority position.
Another sexual harassment mitigation approach is advocacy and adoption of informal ways. The majority of women who have been sexually harassed have reported being unsafe in reporting the incidence to the employers. As described by the Canadian Women’s Foundation (2016), these women are reluctant to speak up about harassment and sexual assault since the abuser is in a position of power. The fear of stigmatization in the society is the foundation of various movements and advocacies such as the ‘MeToo Movement’ began by Tarana Burke to push back against the silences. The use of technology in speaking up is reflected in the application of social media to identify the perpetrators and mobilize drastic changes in how organizations address assault and sexual harassment. Another informal approach is the consideration of self-employment which eliminates the workplace environment. The advantages of these informal approaches entail mobilizing urgent actions against sexual harassment and assault perpetrators and addressing the stigmatization and suffering in silence by the victims. However, these approaches are ineffective without the collaboration by the government (DeGagne, 2015). The government support is therefore required in taking actions against the assaulters and supporting the victims with assistance such as medical and counseling.
Evaluating these Strategies and Future Research
The strategies described above of education, policy changes, and informal in addressing sexual harassment have not effectively addressed the issue. Therefore, it is essential to examine their effectiveness to identify improvement needs. Two approaches can be used in this regard which includes a primary and secondary research on the profoundness of the different strategies and areas of improvement. In the primary research, it would involve formulating a survey and interacting with the victims and other women to evaluate the impacts and pitfalls of the different interventions. Through a primary survey, first-hand information from the victims and other women can be used to develop recommendations. In secondary research, it would involve examining the effectiveness of the different strategies based on the available information. This strategy entails evaluating the applications and challenges of the present strategies from online case studies and research.
Drawing from the above analysis, there are several issues that need further evaluation. It is first critical to establish the reasons behind lagging in prosecuting the sexual perpetrators. Also, ways through which the stigmatization and fear can be addressed are critical to ensuring that all women facing sexual harassment speak-up for actions to be taken. Another pertinent fact is the involvement of the police in sexual harassment (Simpson, 2018). Future studies should, therefore, narrow down to how sexual assault against the LGB community from police can be investigated and prosecutions done. The interest of the police is based on their involvement in conducting the investigations and may be a source of bias and laxity in implementing the corrective actions. Another foundation for future strategies is exploring the profoundness of social support to sexually harassed LGB individuals to reduce the impacts such as stress, loneliness, and social isolation (Bucik, 2016). This will provide insights on improvement strategies to support and interventions such as online organizations and counseling.
In summary, sexual harassment at the workplace for the LGB community is among the numerous social prejudices faced by this population which affects their welfare and productivity. The significance of the issue has been aggravated by feminists over the last three decades. The importance of examining this challenge is based on the impacts it has on the individual and organization and the continued challenges such as poor reporting mechanisms and ineffective implementation of sexual harassment policies. Some of the strategies currently in place to address the issue include education and awareness, policy changes, and informal approaches. Despite the implementation of these diverse interventions, sexual harassment is still a critical issue in the contemporary society and in particular among the LGB community at the workplace thus the importance of conducting a survey to establish the effectiveness of the developed strategies and ways through which they can be enhanced.
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