The Story Of Nestle And Sexual Harassment In The Workplace Shows How Organizations Are Insensitive To The Plight Of Victims

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It all starts with a desperate need. A need to get that position you’ve been dreaming of, living better or just working at that job you love. Sometimes holding on to the job or position is the case; and with the rate of unemployment in Kenya currently at 10.5%, it is safe to say that getting a job is more like discovering a gold mine a fact many would agree with. But at what cost?

The story of a South African woman who’d been working with Nestle and lost her job due to issues related to sexual harassment, set twitter ablaze bringing together people who shared a common goal. Their views on sexual harassment.

Phumelele who revealed her experience of sexual harassment through a twitter thread highlighted what she went through in her quest to get justice, enlightening many on the fact that if twitter did not exist her case would also go unnoticed. This is after her efforts to take any possible action against the harasser (who held a position of power in the company), were futile and she saw social media her last resort.

While some might question her move to share on social media, her bravery to share her story just highlights the fact that both men and women go through sexual harassment.

Some only realising it later if someone else talks about it. Otherwise, this is usually a grey topic that only too often gets swept under the rug. In fact, most people do not know what sexual harassment means until the specific acts are named. Sexual harassment: why you are part of the problem.

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So what exactly is Sexual harassment?

As per the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment refers to, “unwelcome sexual advances requests for sexual favours and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”

This doesn’t delimit sexual harassment to sexual nature. It includes offensive remarks directed at a person’s sex, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Excluding teasing, not so serious comments and jokes if the advance is unwelcome by the other person and it ends up creating a hostile work environment; one that demands adverse employment decisions, the act qualifies as sexual harassment. Are you a creep? 3 things men need to stop doing today.

From a report published by the UNDP, one in three women between 18 and 34 have experienced sexual harassment, assault or rape in their lifetime. Sexual harassment being a worldwide issue, The United Nations Commission on the status of women further illuminates on these statistics by reporting that, 35% of women worldwide, have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives.

According to reports, at least 81% of women have been verbally sexually harassed. So who comprises the 19% of the population?

A Cosmopolitan survey paints the picture by highlighting that while 81% of women experience verbal harassment, 44% of the female victims experience unwanted sexual advances with 25% being on the receiving end of lewd communication.

The Economist puts a cap on it by stating that in any year, nearly one in five women will experience gender harassment while one in ten women will experience unwanted sexual attention. Dealing with sexual harassment on these streets.

Where do men stand in this spectrum

Even though facts state that an extraordinary percentage of women – 85% – experience sexual harassment in the workplace, some men might face sexual harassment from female predators. Studies demonstrate this by indicating that around 85% of complaints are filed by women while around 15% are filed by men – where most perpetrators are male.

Targets are often gay men and young men illuminating on the fact that sexual harassment is also more common in some organizational context than others. Working as a beer promoter is a hazardous job.

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Meta-analytic studies show that harassment becomes prominent in male-dominated contexts/occupations than female-dominated workplaces. Nonetheless, more important than the organizational sex ratios is the work environment.

Blue-collar and hierarchical male-dominated settings where cultural norms are associated with misogyny register a pervasive rate of sexual harassment than non-hierarchical progressive settings.

This to mean if an organization has low sensitivity to the issue of balancing work and personal obligations, and its norm is performance-oriented more than employee-oriented, sexual harassment becomes prevalent.

But what happens to the victims

Victims of sexual harassment often suffer both mental and job-related consequences ranging from anxiety to depression, humiliation, anger, post-traumatic stress disorder, lower commitment, withdrawal and powerlessness. Find out how companies can protect their workers from sexual harassment

In the case of this South African woman who goes by Phumelele Dlamini on twitter, amongst all the effects she experienced powerlessness crowned them all.

She was victimized, slandered and emotionally abused, proving again that sexual harassment is a matter of perspective, where people can turn against you to protect themselves.

Like you guessed the end result of this tug of war was her losing her job and being excommunicated.

Sexual harassments has costs for the company as Human Rights would support, costs of investigations, legal action and damages towards the reputation of a company. Also the cost of losing good employees who find that their workplace would rather support abusers rather than do the right thing and protect the victims.

Nestle South Africa’s reputation has been damaged and they will loss sales over this. Because they have refused to do the right thing and since Dlamini’s thread continues to gain traction by the minute. Companies should learn from this and put in measures to protect their employees from sexual harassment. In the end, it costs them more to keep the abusers, and as more people come out with their stories of sexual harassment, they may suffer damage to their reputation which they may not recover from. Here is How Companies Can Protect Their Workers From Sexual Harassment

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I am a writer with interest in hair, beauty and fashion. I also like telling stories, but most of all I enjoy listening and reading them. If I'm not doing any of the above, I will be trying to crack a game of chess or monopoly. My biggest fear is being ordinary.