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Sexual Harassment

Essay by   •  December 14, 2011  •  Case Study  •  4,130 Words (17 Pages)  •  2,581 Views

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Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (EEOC, 2011). Sexual harassment is defined as "intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors." The United States government agency and the E.E.O.C recorded that sexual harassment cases cost American businesses $48.4 million dollars in 2010 (EEOC, 2011). Sexual harassment is a major issue within businesses today and in order to protect the value and reputation of any company, proactive measures must be taken. To eliminate this type of behavior within the workplace employees must be informed and made aware of these situations and their consequences. The EEOC states that sexual harassment can occur in many different circumstances which are listed below however not limited to (EEOC, 2011):

* The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.

* The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.

* The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

* Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.

* The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

Walnut Insurance Company is an industry leader in supplying its clients with liability insurance. The company has always been led by men; however over the past two years the company has hired on 50 new agents with two-thirds being women. Due to the work force becoming a melting pot over the course of many years, sexual harassment, team building and diversity factor into the overall business strategic goals in order for a company to achieve their vision. Walnut Insurance Company has been in the Industry for over 50 years without these types of issues however, with the changing demographics it is imperative now more than ever to use training as a tool of prevention.

Walnut Insurance Company's mission is honesty and customer satisfaction. Walnut is a successful business which has been in the insurance industry for over 50 years. Tom Morrison is the President of the company and strives to create a niche in the industry which has helped them reach a competitive advantage within the market. The company employs about 2,400 employees and consists of 12 regional offices within the United States. The company's senior management structure consists of six senior male Vice Presidents who all report to Tom Morrison. The Company's is focused on creating relationships with its representatives, gathering information about customer problems, assisting agents with policy questions and provide training to those who have potential for promotion.

The traditional way these activities had been conducted in the past consisted of overnight sales trips to different regional offices where the VP's work with sales representatives to reach business goals. Walnut Insurance Company uses a mentoring program for employee development. Within this program the VP's select five to six motivated and talented agents to train under them. Action plans are created for each sale representative selected and feedback regarding their strengths and weakness are discussed to help employees prepare for management positions. Tom Morrison felt that with the recent hires, mainly being women, the informal mentoring system may not be the best way to integrate women into their developmental program. These women were hired right out of college and selected based on their sales skills, initiative, self-confidence, assertiveness, and physical appearance.

Tom Morrison felt the need to address his concerns of their developmental program with the VP's to ensure equal opportunity for both the men and women working at the company. He proposed a formal mentoring approach in which employees would be assigned to each VP. When addressed, the VP's opposed the idea of formalized mentoring and had strong opinions on having employees assigned to them as well as integrating women into the traditional overnight sales trips. Some of the main concerns are listed below:

- Traveling with female employees on overnight sales calls and the image it would portray to others

- Fear of sexual harassment suits being filed against them (In the event that they are innocent the charge could still ruin their career)

- Would the company stand behind a VP is a sexual harassment case was brought against them?

- Not being able to have a free choice in selecting the employees they wanted to mentor

- Wives approval for overnight trips with female co-workers

Mentoring has always been a great tool for employee developmental and is crucial to the company's success. Determining new policies, providing excellent service and expanding the company in the future depends on finding and training the best employees, whether they are female or male. To ensure the mentoring program is non-discriminatory, effective and successful, the program must be altered to fit the business and employee's needs.

We can define a training needs assessment as determining the gap between what an employee must be able to do and what he or she can or is currently doing. After conducting a needs assessment we have discovered that there is a discrepancy between our current practices and what our practices should be to garner the best results as well as avoid any discrimination practices. While our current mentoring program has had great success, we do need to alter our practices to include all potential employees. I understand there are some concerns amongst current employees but after completing this training the hope is that those concerns will diminish. Some concerns that have been brought to my attention:

- Potential travel and overnight stay with female employees

- Concerns with being charged with sexual harassment

- Losing the freedom of picking employees to mentor

Organizational Analysis

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