Encourage. Support. Act!
Bystander Approaches to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- Back to Contents
- Executive summary
- Part 1: Sexual harassment: an overview
- Part 2: Sexual harassment from the perspective of bystanders
- Part 3: The motivations and actions of bystanders: theoretical perspectives on bystander intervention
- Part 4: Bystander interventions in violence prevention
- Part 5: Legal and organisational implications of bystander approaches for sexual harassment
- Part 6: Towards a prevention framework
This research paper has outlined the potential application of new and
creative bystander approaches to addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.
Specifically, the paper has integrated studies on sexual harassment with a
range of theoretical and empirical research on bystander approaches as they
apply in the context of workplace bullying, racial harassment, whistle blowing,
violence in intimate relationships, workplace justice frameworks and employee
The research has shown that bystander approaches can be potent tools in
preventing and addressing workplace sexual harassment.
However, the adoption, implementation and evaluation of bystander approaches
can only be effective for addressing workplace sexual harassment provided they
are oriented towards the specific contexts of sexual harassment. They must also
be crafted for use in the typical situations in which sexual harassment takes
place. And above all, they must be supported by organizational change.
Considering such complex issues poses significant challenges. However, this
paper has provided some preliminary suggestions for how such strategies can be
Whilst the paper has focused on the way bystander approaches may
be relevant to sexual harassment in the workplace, the conclusions are also
relevant and applicable to the prevention of sexual harassment in other areas of
public life. For example, while relatively little research has addressed sexual
harassment in schools, it is also possible for bystander interventions to be
effective in these and related settings. Responding to sexual harassment through
bystander interventions may also be relevant in other areas covered by
Australian law, including in the provision of goods and services and
The paper has demonstrated the potential for bystander
approaches to make a real difference in preventing and addressing sexual
harassment as a costly and damaging workplace harm.