Sexual Harassment: Why Some Firms Are More Prone To It

Tara Khandelwal
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MeToo Rural India, Indeed Censuswide Survey

Here's some insight into why some organisations are more prone to sexual harassment than others. Researchers found three key factors for this. Firms that are male dominated, hierarchical and forgiving of bad behaviour are more prone to sexual abuse. 


Aggression and competition

Firms more prone to sexual harassment have company cultures characterised by aggression and competition, according to studies. Such organisations have a gender imbalance, which increases negative gender-based behaviours against women.

"In those organisations that are more prone to sexual harassment than others, in my opinion, the organisation culture encourages such behaviour. It is telegraphed from the top, as acceptable behaviour," writer Harini Calamur tells SheThePeople.TV

Hierarchies and power

Studies show having power means people feel they can do whatever they want. Sexual harassment in hierarchical organisations is often couched in transaction-based terms. 

A friend reveals how in the US music industry, music directors demand sexual favours. She recounts how a producer asked her to perform oral sex in return for signing up for an album. She refused and lost the record deal.


Ex-head of Harlequin India and director of Gaia Smart Cities, Amrita Chowdhury, agrees.

“Harassment at its core is definitely an assertion of power of the stronger over the weaker," - Amrita Chowdhury

Permissiveness of work culture

If a firm has a culture in which women are undervalued, they may not feel comfortable reporting harassment. They may feel their concerns will be ignored or they will be reprimanded. An example of this is Uber, where Susan Fowler spoke about how she complained to HR several times. She was told no action would be taken against the perpetrator. And hers wasn't the only case.

Chandni Parekh, social psychologist and NGO and CSR consultant, says gendered attitudes in women's families in India trickle over to the workplace.

"Most organisations haven't managed to cultivate a "speak up" culture where women and men feel comfortable to share some form information about stressors or incidents that may be impinging on their mental health," - Chandni Parekh

What is even more pervasive than sexual harassment is the emotional and physical load many women carry due to gendered expectations in their families. "Hardly any efforts are made to ensure that patriarchal attitudes towards women in general subside though," she tells SheThePeople.TV.

Also Read: Sexual Harassment: More About Power Than Sex?

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