Sexual harassment

Workplace sexual harassment can negatively affect women’s career choices and advancement to leadership positions. This can also impact on addressing issues such as occupational segregation and closing the gender pay gap.

Sexual harassment can have severe and long-lasting physical, emotional and economic consequences for victims. The impacts of sexual harassment are not limited to the victims themselves – bystanders and others in the workplace can be adversely affected. Workplace sexual harassment can affect organisational productivity and reputation. The workplace is a key intervention point in preventing and addressing family violence and sexual violence. Organisational culture plays a significant role in changing behaviour as well as supporting legislation and workplace policies and procedures.

The Ministry for Women commissioned a literature scan on sexual harassment in the workplace to better understand international best practice about preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment. This literature scan contributes to the Government work programme on addressing family violence and sexual violence. The literature scan focuses on literature from thirteen countries with similar legal systems to New Zealand: Australia, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Publications from international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Labour Organisation, and the United Nations have also been included.

It considers the current legal and policy frameworks in place in these countries, the impact and effectiveness of these arrangements, and any new or promising strategies. The scan suggests that a multi-pronged approach including legislation, data collection and analysis, effective enforcement, culture and behaviour change within workplaces are effective in responding to sexual harassment in the workplace.