Assessment and Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Employees: An Applied Guide to Creating Healthy Organizations

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Abstract

Sexual harassment occurs in organizations around the world, with costly consequences for employees and employers. In this article, we present a case for the primary prevention of sexual harassment, a dysfunctional, counterproductive behavior. We propose that primary prevention can positively influence organizational characteristics and the organizational harassment culture through preventive organizational actions (POAs), helping to build healthy organizations. Rather than being reactive, and instituted after the fact, primary prevention is a proactive approach that addresses root causes of sexual harassment, preventing its development. This approach is research-based and grounded in the well-established traditions of public health and preventive medicine that are applied to prevention of chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease. Management commitment, zero tolerance, applicant and new hire awareness, and regular assessments and training are important aspects of the proactive preventive management of sexual harassment.

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