Gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH), including sexual harassment in the world of work, is an epidemic, a human rights violation, and a primary barrier to gender equity, women’s economic security, and safe and respectful workplaces for everyone. Recently, international and domestic policymakers, enforcement agencies, workers, worker rights and women’s rights advocates, human rights and civil rights advocates, employer organizations, and others have identified specific strategies that collectively are necessary to effectively prevent and address GBVH in the world of work including:
- Prohibitions of behavior must extend beyond sexual harassment to all forms of GBVH in the world of work;
- Interventions to address GBVH in the world of work must be conducted in conjunction with initiatives to prevent and address racism, ageism, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism, and religion-based harassment and violence because these abuses often co-occur, and one cannot be effectively addressed without addressing each of them;
- Initiatives must be led by and co-created with workers disproportionately impacted by GBVH and the co-occurring forms of violence and oppression;
- Protections and remedies must extend to all workers (volunteers, interns, apprentices, contractors) and third parties (e.g., customers) in the world of work;
- Protections and remedies must extend to the entire world of work, wherever and however work is performed (home, conferences, online);
- Integration of accountability structures must include accountability for the individual who committed the abuse as well as the employer where the abuse occurred, recognizing that how work is structured can create risk factors for GBVH that may need to be addressed and must include remedies and support tailored to the needs of those who experienced the impacts of GBVH (e.g., paid leave from work for survivors during an investigation into an allegation of GBVH);
- Ongoing in-person interactive peer-driven education and awareness on what GBVH is, what its root causes are, the scope and incidents in that workplace, and the impacts are necessary as a part of efforts to shift the culture to one of mutual respect and safety;
- A trauma-informed, transparent, timely, confidential process for receiving and investigating concerns and complaints regarding GBVH in the world of work; and
- Ongoing evaluation of all aspects of the program to prevent and address GBVH that is shared with the entire workplace community and integrated into ongoing improvement efforts.
This article briefly highlights how some of these approaches are being identified and integrated into policy advocacy and implementation in the United States.