It 2010, the overall rates of workplace harassment remained

It
is commonly understood that workplace harassment definition not only varies
among the globe, is some cases it doesn’t even exist, and in others is still
under construction. Possibly, anyone can both experience and/or commit violent
acts and harassment at the working place. The 2016 ILO reports concluded on its
definitional approach that “violence and harassment can be horizontal and
vertical, from internal and external sources (including clients and other third
parties and public authorities) – in the public or private sector, or in the
formal or informal economy”. Indeed, the 2016 United Kingdom Trades Union
Congress (TUC) research confirms the “horizontal assumption”. It indicates that
54% of the respondents who argued that experienced workplace harassment
addressed the offenders as colleagues (and 3% as junior colleagues!). On the
other (vertical) hand, 17% reported that the offender was either someone with
direct authority on them either a direct manager (TUC, 2016).

After
the definitional illustration, it could be said that temporal trends on
workplace harassment are not easy to be addressed since its conceptualization
not as equally-applicable as the crime of murder, for instance, among the world.
Consequently, its measurement across time is limited to the last two decades
where attempts to generalize temporal trends occurred. Europe shows some
information over the time as a general pattern. Workplace
harassment and violence were increasingly reported during the past decade by member
states reporting a longer time series, such as Finland and Norway (Eurofound,
2015). The 2013 Norwegian research shows an increase in both violence and
unwanted sexual attention, but the reported average amount of attacks is
declining, revealing a decrease in serious cases An increase is reported in the
Netherlands, Finland, and Bulgaria (for sexual harassment), Spain (mostly verbal
violence) and France (workplace bullying). There was an increase in witnessed
violence and harassment in Denmark and Finland, while the number of personally
experienced incidents is generally declining. Generally in Europe, workplace
harassment has increased in long-term observation. Nevertheless, from 2005 to 2010,
the overall rates of workplace harassment remained relatively stable. An
increase was reported in specific countries the recent years, mostly in relation
to changes in workplaces affected by the economic crisis (Eurofound, 2015).

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Despite
the difficulty to illustrate general numbers across time in other continents,
the trends on the type of harassment received more attention there. The United
States shows great effort to measure workplace harassment patterns per type. Characteristically,
between 2010-2015, it could be seen on the total US number of complaints a 36%
alleged harassment on the basis of race, 34% alleged harassment on the basis of
disability, 26% alleged harassment on the basis of age, 12% alleged harassment
on the basis of national origin, 44% alleged harassment on the basis of sex,
and 5% alleged harassment on the basis of religion (EEOC, 2016). In the US,
hence, the last decade (approximately) the majority of the reports of the
workplace harassment are based either on racial (36%) either on sexual (44%)
reasons. In Asian context, it attracted significant attention from researchers
and governments after the 1980s, because a significant source of work stress found
to be associated with aggressive behaviors at workplace (REF). In 2008, the Singapore’s
Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) conducted a survey to
describe the particular phenomenon. Their study on 500
respondents and 92 companies reported that 54% had experienced some form of
workplace sexual harassment. 27% of the 272 respondents experienced harassment
by their colleagues, while 17% were harassed by their superior.79% of the victims
were women and 21% were men.

Despite
trends and demographics, there are locational patterns as well. In most parts
of the world (at least the western-type) it seems that the topographical
patterns are the same (REF). Workplace is considered not only the traditional
physical workplace, “but also commuting to and from work, work-related social
events, public spaces including for informal workers such as street vendors,
and the home, in particular for homeworkers, domestic workers and teleworkers”
(ILO, 2016). The world of work also includes spaces
that link workers to the workplace through technology. The Meeting of Experts
concluded that “inappropriate use of technology is also … a source of concern”
and that any new instrument “should also be able to respond to the new
challenges and risks which might lead to violence and harassment in the world
of work, such as those arising from changing forms of work and technology”
(ILO, 2016a, Appendix I, paragraphs 3 and 18).

 

 

Part
2: Literature review and theoretical explanations

            Workplace harassment is an unlawful act where
several theoretical explanations could be developed. However, due to my
previous education (Victimology and criminal justice program) a theoretical
analysis from the victim’s perspective will be attempted. Initially, there are
three main cause-classifications for harassment at work; Conditions of the work
environment (organization), characteristics of the victim, and the offender
(REF). Victims can blame consequently the other two. Firstly, the organization
could be seen as directly responsible for the presence of an offender through
its human resources system (Aquino & Lamertz, 2004). Employees’ selection,
training, rewarding or punishing of the colleague-offender’s behaviour are some
elements that the human resources sector is responsible. Further, there could
be an indirect responsibility of the organization related to its culture on encouraging
or permitting harassment, according the victim’s perception (See Broken Windows
Theory, page). Nevertheless, in both perspectives (direct or indirect
responsibility) the harassment could lead in a general stressful climate. More
precisely, role stressors (e.g. ambiguity of the employee’s role) are connected
to harassment at work possibly due to the fact that victimizers experience
stress-based emotions and “attack” consequently to their colleagues (Spector et
al, 1994).  

From the above so far, it could be said that
role stressors and workplace abuse are interconnected. Furthermore, there are
several assumptions which describe stressors as potential “antecedents” of
workplace harassment (Aquino & Lamertz, 2004). Initially, exposure to
working stress may produce behavioral and emotional situations that contribute
to victimization. Additionally, victims’ indication for high level of stress
might implies the existence of environmental stress resulting from everyone from
the victims’ working surrounding. Hence, it might be the case that both victims
and victimizers experiencing the same stressors. Except of the environmental stressors
at workplace, personal qualities could help us to address workplace harassers
(Zapf et al, 2003). Rebellious characters, impulsivity, cynicism, and job
position could reinforce the trend of the potential offender to offend (Bowling,
2006). From the victims’ characteristics perspective, victims who are confronted
with stress and disputes at their job are possibly facing stress and disputes from
their family and friends at the same time, as well (Skjorshammer & Hofoss,
1999).

A plethora of studies connects the victim’s
characteristics with workplace harassment (Bowling, 2006). According to Bowling
(2006), “positive affectivity” and “negative affectivity” related with harassment
at work. Also victim’s “submissiveness” was found to be connected with harassment
at work (Aquino, 2000) but still the findings are not clear and further
research is needed. The norm of reciprocity indicates a strong cause-effect
relationship from many researchers as regards workplace harassment, as well (Cialdini,
2001; Goulder, 1960; cited by Bowling, 2006).

            Broken
Windows Theory (BWT) seems to be possibly a way to, theoretically, explain
workplace harassment, in a more general-framework sense. BWT is a
criminological theory which argues that urban disorder and vandalism (as more
minor crimes) contribute to higher crimes and anti-social behaviors, especially
through its norm-setting effect (REF). The specific theoretical framework indicates
that by monitoring and preserving urban settings from “softer crimes”, such as
public drinking or vandalism, it supports the effort to keep an environment
with order and lawfulness, and consequently, to a more severe crimes prevention
(REF).

                Accordingly, a workplace
could be seen as a micro-society where several norms are interacting in order
to attribute to the organization’s general moral framework. It could be, thus,
assumed that when minor incidents such as verbal bullying or/and intentionally
and continuously sexual comments occur (repeatedly and without consequences), those
actions to be labeled as “natural” or “okay”.  This assumption could be translated as a
social conformity from the victimized employees to the harassing working
environment. Together with stressors such as unemployment fear, risk of losing
a promotion or salary raise, BWT looks like a possibly applicable explanation
about why workplace harassment remains relatively underreported or even hidden.

            In this chapter’s conclusion,
despite of a significant amount of findings and theoretical approaches who try
to explain the causal factors of workplace harassment, the conceptual differences
around the existing cultures should be strongly taken into account. Yet, a more
generally applicable definition (at least in practice) of the working harassment
is not easily obvious. From country to country there are significant discrepancies
about which actions are considered as workplace harassment and in which extent
do they consist criminal unlawful act. In the next chapter documentation of
relevant policies will follow in the paper’s effort to address who the
policy-makers responded so far.

 

 

Part
3: Crime prevention/reduction strategies

There is a significant effort in the majority
of the western-type countries around the world to tackle the workplace harassment.
In 2016, ILO illustrated a collection of policies related to the issue and
reported several significant findings (ILO, 2016, chapter 7). From the 80
countries that have been observed, 76% has national policies for fighting
workplace harassment and violence. Nevertheless, the biggest proportion of those
countries addresses certain forms of workplace harassment, mostly the sexual
one, without having a more holistic approach. Work-based harassment is
frequently component of gender-based violence against women (OEEC, 2016). Other
policy-parts that work-based harassment is included could be seen in policies of
safety, and equality and non-discrimination.

However, surprisingly many Latin American
governments, as an example, took considerable actions against workplace
violence and harassment. They have introduced policies of granting certificates
to companies that have taken certain actions to decrease workplace harassment
(especially the sexual). The Equipares Seal in Colombia, the Quality with
Equity Certificate in Uruguay, and the Iguala Seal in Chile are few examples
(ILO, 2016). In the Brazilian country, the National Policy on Workers’ Health
and Safety indicated that psychological violence is one of the causal factors
of death and sickness of the employees. Consequently, Brazil expressed official
awareness campaign to catch the attention of the employers.

Argentina, furthermore, created the Advisory
Office on Violence in the Workplace to aware, train, and distributed important
information about the phenomenon (ILO, 2016). Awareness campaigns seem to be
also applicable in Latin American countries. Uruguay promoted a gender-based
harassment in the media in 2015 under the national project “Uruguay united to
end violence against women and adolescents” (ILO, 2016).  They gave systematically directions to journalists
about how to approach gender-based violence, also in the workplace (UN, 2010). Moving
to Africa and particularly in Nigeria, the national Action Plan policy on
AIDS/HIV in 2014 called for work-related initiatives to put a stop on
gender-based violence. In addition, the Nigerian government launched
educational programs to tackle biased norms, especially about the masculine perception
which often could lead to unsafe and nonconsensual sex (REF).

In European context, more than 600 working
communities in Finland (e.g. trade unions) joined the last decade the “Discrimination-free
zone” campaign who aims to eliminate any discriminatory form such as harassment
or/and bullying (REF). The period 2009-2012, the authorities in Norway introduced
an Action Plan to improve the working life among LGBT people. They gave special
attention on how social exclusion and harassment is connected with the environment
at work. As a result, the promoted guidelines to the employer’s associations
related to more inclusive working conditions (REF).

The above documentation, illustrates just
some examples from significant effort around the world to take action on the
issue. Despite the governmental