Quote to Introduce the Issue
Barnett (2007) commences his work Sexual harassment: Do gender and organizational status of harasser really matter? by pointing out that “Sexual harassment is one of the key issues in the contemporary business world as increasing incidences continue to be reported all over the globe” (Pg. 7).
In the ideal world, having knowledge on what sexual harassment entails is the primary step of preventing it from occurring. According to Conte (2000), this may be defined as unsolicited visual, verbal or physical demeanor of a sexual nature towards another human being to an extent of severely affecting the working conditions or creating an antagonistic working environment.
Reason for Choice of the Issue
It was vital to choose sexual harassment because it is one of the key ethical issues being witnessed in the present world of business. Many employees complain about sexual harassment from their bosses and other employees hence the need for discussion of this issue. The commonness of sexual harassment facilitated its choice for discussion in this paper.
In this context, it is of significance to point out one of the biggest cases of all times in relation to sexual harassment, Mitsubishi Motors manufacturing, 1998.
The company verbally abused women, subjected them to obscene jokes, used graffiti as well as demeaning behavior. At one instance a mail worker fired an air gun between a lady’s legs; there was an abusive environment that saw many females quit positions which would be replaced by males. Others were denied promotion for refusing to give in to sexual favors from immediate supervisors (Equal Rights Advocates, 2012).
From the above example, sexual harassment in the work place can be categorized in two: quid pro quo harassment as well as hostile work environment frustration. Firstly, quid pro quo harassment can be defined as instances where an employee is expected to keep up with harassing behavior towards him or her with the aim of preserving his or her job as well as avoiding negative impacts for lack of ‘cooperation’. For example, a company administrator asking for direct sexual favors arguing that the employee has no option but to comply. It can also be informed of a supervisor requesting to meet up a junior employee outside the organization, making romantic advances during the meeting, and putting into discussion the benefits of being in a relationship in terms of job security among other vices (Sims, 2002).
According to Equal Rights Advocates (2012), hostile work environment harassment entails establishment of an abusive, antagonistic or intimidating work environment towards a specific employee. The harassment faced by the victim may be severe, all-encompassing and reasonably offensive. Such cases include the situations, when a partner at work is frequently making sexual remarks towards the other or when an associate continuously inquires from other people at work about an employee’s sexual life.
This paper explicates sexual harassment as one of the key ethical issues affecting employees within the organization. The paper also presents effective alternatives for both the affected individuals and the overall organization. Based on our example, we are better placed to point out various negative effects that emerged as a result of Mitsubishi’s Illinois plant creating a hostile setting for women since 1990 (Barnett, 2007, p. 59). According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), there are various laws and Acts each employer or manager ought to have in mind before engaging in sexual harassment. These include:
I. Federal Law, whereby Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act makes certain entrepreneurs accountable when it comes to prevention and curbing of sexual harassment occurring within the corporate environment.
II. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) forbids sexual harassment in employment.
A. Barnett (2007) asserts that sexual harassment determines some of the decisions that are made within the organization. This implies that some of these decisions would depend on whether the employee agreed or refused to give sexual favors. For instance, in the case of Mitsubishi, the management denied women promotion for refusing to give in to sexual favors and going further to use abusive language when stating their role in the organization’s goals; a male supervisor was heard saying, ‘giving a woman a high position is giving her the powers to urinate on men’(p. 213).
B. Sexual harassment affects the overall performance of employees within the organization because of unsafe working environment. From our case, we are in the position to point out that the conduct of Mitsubishi resulted to a serious economic injury when the case directed them to pay $34 million dollars in terms of damages. Additionally, repeated sexual comments normally make the victim so uncomfortable at work such that his or her performance declines greatly (Sims, 2002).
Ethical Issues to be addressed
A. On an individual level, improper personal behaviors and attitudes among individuals need to be addressed to ensure that they comply with the required standards at an individual level.
B. At the organizational level, ethical issues relating to the improper and undesirable conduct of the management staff and overall employees need the urgent address.
C. At the societal level, ethical issues concerning deviation from the established morals and ethical standards need to be addressed.
A. According to Sims (2002), individual employees have the alternative of reporting any cases of sexual harassment to the required authorities within the organization or outside the organization.
B. Mitsubishi Ltd. has an alternative of establishing strong ethical standards that every employee needs to observe strictly. This implies that ethical standards should hold a firm position against sexual harassment.
Evaluation of Alternatives
In line with teleologicalism, alternative A is the best alternative because it would lead to provision of best outcomes for individuals. However, in line with the deontological view, the alternative may not be effective because it may lead to varied outcomes of rejection of the case or acceptability and support of employees. In relation to this, the law regulators normally advocate for regular training of all employees on ways of harassment and discrimination at the work place. According to FEHA, such training ought to be conducted after every two years (Equal Rights Advocates, 2012).
Teleologically, argument B would lead to the achievement of the required results because of its strong position on moral standards. On the other hand, deontological view would not agree that morals would be a better alternative as they would not be followed by everyone. In addition to training, it is significant for firms to foster moral awareness as well as negative effects of sexual harassment through such means as posters, videos or brochures among many other visual materials. The sole purpose of employing this means is to assist employees to identify the workplace harassment as well as notify others from different organizations facing same troubles (Equal Rights Advocates, 2012).
Alternative and Justification
The best alternative is to enhance communication systems within the organization hence giving the employees more chances of raising their grievances in an open manner. This alternative is the best one because employees would be free to say anything concerning contravention of ethical standards. This will lead to the alleviation of sexual harassment because of the open reporting channels.
The Perception of the Alternative
Notably, the organization, individuals and society would have a positive perception toward the alternative of opening up reporting and communication lines because of its effectiveness in the resolution of the matter of sexual harassment in business organizations.
Sexual harassment is one of the key ethical issues being reported in most business organizations. Notably, sexual harassment influences most decisions such as the promotion or demotion of individuals depending on their reaction.
Employees have the alternative of reporting any incidences; organizations have the alternative of putting in place strong ethical standards to govern operations, and the society has the alternative of ensuring the established ethical standards as stated to be followed.
The best alternative to addressing sexual harassment is to open up proper communication channels within the organization and give employees better opportunities for reporting any incidences (Conte, 2000).
Company Responsibilities to Employees
From the contest of sexual harassment against Mitsubishi Illinois Plant in 1990, Barnett (2007) asserts that, ‘an employer may satisfy the requirement of reasonable care to prevent sexual harassment by having and distributing to employees a policy prohibiting sexual harassment and informing employees how to make a complaint’ (p. 291).
Conte, A. (2000). Sexual harassment in the workplace: Law and practice. (Vol. Volume 1). Washington, DC: Aspen Publishers Online.
Barnett, M. (2007). Sexual harassment: Do gender and organizational status of harasser really matter? (Vol. Volume 1). Texas, CA: University of North Texas.
Sims, R. R. (2002). Managing Organizational Behavior. London, UK: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Equal Rights Advocates. (2012, March 16). Know your rights: sexual harassment at work. Retrieved from http://www.equalrights.org/publications/kyr/shwork.asp
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (FY 1997 – FY 2006), Discrimination by Type- Sexual Harassment. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/types/sexual_harrassment.html.