Literature review

Literature scan of international best practice about preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment

Occupational health and safety Sexual harassment Violence against women

The Ministry for Women is contributing to cross-agency work on preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace. The work aims to:

  • identify actions that promote workplace cultures that help prevent sexual harassment and respond to it appropriately when it does occur
  • review the regulatory framework and identify guidance, training, work practices and institutional arrangements that help promote safe workplaces.

The scan focuses mainly, but not exclusively, on literature and public information from 13 countries with similar legal systems to New Zealand: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US. Publications from international organisations such as the OECD, the ILO and the UN have also been canvassed. With a few exceptions, the review has drawn on material published in the past 10 years. Most of the material was sourced through the internet and Massey University supplied additional material.

Given the wide scope of the research questions, the limited time frame and the relative lack of literature, it has not been possible to explore all the research areas fully. While it is possible to identify the legal requirements in most countries, there is very little information about how effective these are or how well employing organisations actively comply with them. It is apparent following the high profile and effectiveness of the #MeToo movement, that governments and organisations in several countries are identifying gaps or weaknesses in current practice and are in the process of reviewing their laws, policies and procedures for dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.

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