What responsibilities should the individual and the organisation take in preventing harassment in the workplace?
Harass; Subject to aggressive pressure or intimidation. Oxford English Dictionary
When one thinks about harassment within the workplace, ones thoughts tend immediately to be drawn toward, harassment in the form of, sexual harassment and racial harassment. However following extensive research into this subject field, one realises just how vast the issue of harassment in the workplace has become.
Ishmael and Alemoru (1999) suggest that the basis of harassment lies within three substantial types of behaviour. Namely verbal, non-verbal, and physical.
The authors imply that the use of language, as a tool of power, is considered to be somewhat underestimated and furthermore suggest, that when used in a discriminatory manner, the use of verbal communications can have an incredible effect and huge repercussions on both individuals and whole organisations.
Ishmael and Alemoru also identify non-verbal communications, such as the display and distribution of visual images and written materials, such as, pictures, emails and sexist or racist graffiti as being a form of harassment.
In more extreme cases of harassment, the authors categorise physical abuse on four levels, namely, social touching, whereby the perpetrator may be invading the recipients' personal space. For example they may repeatedly "pat" the recipient, this may well be, in the recipients' perception, interpreted as a caressing touch.
It is recognised however, with this particular form of harassment, the possibilities of misinterpretation between, for example, a naturally tactile perpetrator, and an over sensitive victim.
Offensive touching is described by the authors as being similar to social touching, that is, it still involves the invasion of personal space, however in an instance of offensive touching, the perpetrator intends to offend by "pushing the boundaries of acceptability" (P8). An example of this form of harassment,