Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Persuasive Speech

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Sexual harassment happening in the workplace has been a perpetual problem for many decades. However, in October of 2017, The Me-Too Movement finally drew public attention to this timeless issue. Various celebrities started speaking out about the sexual abuse they experienced while working in Hollywood. Providing evidence of how common sexual harassment in the workplace may truly be. Throughout, I will be analyzing the effect sexual harassment has in the workplace and the negative consequences that follow. As well as the effects on a victim's physical/mental health and the stressors that are associated. However, I will also be discussing how sexual harassment may affect employers, taxpayers, and the companies themselves.

Sexual harassment does not have to be a physical assault. Sexual harassment is considered to be taking place when inappropriate comments are being made or being promised a promotion for sexual favors. Sexual harassment has continued for so long in the workplace because businesses do not know what to do about it. Harassers view this as an expectable behavior because society tends to focus on the actions of the victims instead of those of the perpetrator. Sexual harassment impacts society because it takes away integrity in the workplace. Sexual Harassment not only damages the victim; it can damage the work environment and a company’s reputation. An unacceptably small number of people realize the negative consequences victims may experience. Many victims who have gone through sexual harassment in the workplace face physical and mental health problems. Research has suggested that “sexual harassment is a stressor that can lead to work withdrawal, career instability, job dissatisfaction, and poor mental and physical health.” (Houle, Jason N, et al.)Research also suggests that “the frequency and severity of harassment are key predictors of mental health and well-being” (Houle, Jason N, et al.). One reason why these issues being faced are so severe is that “the longevity of these effects, as targets of harassment, continue to report depressive symptoms nearly a decade later” (Mclaughlin, Heather, et al.). This research shows evidence that the issues victims face are complex and long-lasting. Victims may sometimes wonder if something they did caused them to become a victim. Could they have acted differently or dressed differently? Some victims are struggling with physical and mental health problems, every day, sometimes for decades.

It has been discovered that the victims' mental health can deteriorate due to negative stressors. Research does “consider sexual harassment to be a chronic stressor because it puts targeted workers under physical and mental stress in their day-to-day work activities. Stressful experiences are expected to be particularly deleterious to mental health when they are chronic, negative, and unpredictable, a threat to one’s identity, or signify a failure to achieve a desired goal” (Houle, Jason N, et al.). Since victims are suffering from these debilitating issues, as well as sexual harassment, it affects the victim’s ability to work or be around co-workers. A victim might start missing work, or may even take a lower position with lower pay to escape. In more severe cases, an employee may decide to leave the company altogether. A study determined “that anywhere from 3.8% to 33% of women who experience sex-based harassment say that they intend to leave their jobs, depending on their industry, position, and security without a job (Rizzo, Ted, et, al). If employers handled sexual harassment situations appropriately, the perpetrator would not hold the power. Victims would not have to leave their positions or be fearful of speaking out.

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However, companies, where sexual harassment takes place, are also negatively affected. Companies that have sexual harassment take place have higher legal costs, as well as lower productivity. Between 1985 and 1987, sexual harassment cost the federal government $267 million, over $200 million was due to decreased productivity. More recently, in 2015, sexual harassment has cost companies up to $46 million (Mclaughlin, Heather, et al.). These costs begin stacking up the moment the perpetrator starts sexually harassing another employee. The perpetrator can cause damage to team performance, reliability, company reputation, and employee retention. If employers would make sexual harassment awareness a priority, good employees would not have to leave. If perpetrators were aware of the consequences, maybe they would think twice before harassing someone. It can be very damaging to a company’s reputation that has had issues with sexual harassment in the workplace. Other companies may avoid association with a company with a damaged reputation for fear that association might deter customers or even potential employees.

Taxpayers are affected, as well, when sexual harassment takes place at work, especially when it occurs at jobs provided by the state. An example of this would be when “nine female officers sued the Philadelphia Police Department over sexual harassment or discrimination” ( Marin, Max, et al.). This article also shared that the taxpayers of Philadelphia between 2007 and 2019 paid $2.3 million in funded pay-outs. Another article shared that, “an estimate based on a 1988 study of the costs of sexual harassment in the U.S. Army reported annual costs of $250 million. A U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board study from the early 1990s estimated the economic costs of sexual harassment to federal government workplaces over a two-year period at $327 million” (Holtzman, Tessa, et al.). Pulls people away from important governmental jobs and wastes taxpayer dollars.

Victims, companies, and taxpayers have been struggling with the negative consequences of sexual harassment in the workplace for decades. In actuality, only a small number of those who have experienced sexual harassment, about one in ten, ever formally file a report (Holtzman, Tessa, et al.). One reason it may go unreported is that abusers seem to target victims that may be inexperienced employees or employees that just do not stand up for themselves. It may be the fear of losing their job by a single parent that solely depends on their paycheck to take care of their children. Many victims think that nobody will believe them or that nothing will be done about it. Some will not report the abuse because they believe that other people will think they are overreacting, trying to stir up trouble or it could be the fear of damaging their careers. Many times harassment continues to go on; this may be because victims decide that speaking up or filing a complaint might not be worth it or that they may face retaliation. Few are punished for workplace sexual harassment and continue to work in the same career. It sends a message that the victims are not worth protecting. The severe issues with sexual harassment in the workplace are recently coming to light. More should be done to help prevent harassment and stop it immediately if it does occur. Appropriate action should also be made not only to help potential victims but to help existing victims as well. Companies should have a sexual harassment awareness program in place. It should start in the new hire process and it should continue periodically to remind employees that it is not acceptable in any form. It should communicate what is considered harassment as well as the consequences for violating the policy. Prevention is always the best tool.

Works Cited

    1. Holtzman, Tessa, et al. “Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Understanding the Costs.” Institute for Women's Policy Research, 1 June 2019,
    2. Houle, Jason N, et al. “THE IMPACT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS DURING THE EARLY OCCUPATIONAL CAREER.” Society and Mental Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 July 2011,
    3. Marin, Max, et al. “Philly's Female Cops Sue Police Department over Civil Rights Abuses Every Other Month, Records Show.” Billy Penn, Billy Penn, 23 Aug. 2019,
    4. McLaughlin, Heather, et al. “[PDF] THE ECONOMIC AND CAREER EFFECTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON WORKING WOMEN.: Semantic Scholar.” Gender and Society, 1 Jan. 1970,
    5. Rizzo, Ted, et al. “The Costs of Sex-Based Harassment to Businesses - ICRW: PASSION. PROOF. POWER.” ICRW, 2018,
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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Persuasive Speech. (2023, October 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from
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