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Four Types of Sexual Harassment and How to Prevent Them in the Workplace

| Content Marketing Manager  
As Paradigm’s Content Marketing Manager, Allison utilizes her research and writing expertise, experience in working cross-collaboratively amongst teams, and drive to create compelling content around diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Now that employees are working from almost everywhere — in the office, from home, at events, etc. — employers need to ensure they’re helping employees feel safe, supported, and able to thrive in a work environment free of harassment no matter where they are.

Whether it be in-person, virtually, over text messages, or through video or phone calls, there are many opportunities for harassment — more specifically sexual harassment — to occur.

Four Types of Sexual Harassment

If organizations want to prevent workplace sexual harassment, they must first understand what constitutes it. Here are four types of sexual harassment:

Unwanted Sexual Advances

Unwelcome sexual advances, including requests for sexual favors, touching, or physical contact (especially of a sexual nature), are clear indicators of sexual harassment. These actions are never okay and are strictly prohibited.

Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment (derogatory comments, suggestive jokes, or innuendos) is another common form of sexual harassment. This type of conduct can create a hostile work environment and can leave the victim feeling embarrassed, intimidated, or humiliated.

Non-Verbal Harassment

Non-verbal harassment, such as leering, staring, or making suggestive gestures, is a form of harassment that can be just as harmful as verbal harassment. This type of behavior can be difficult to prove, but it is important to be aware of the signs and to speak up if you experience or witness non-verbal harassment.


Retaliation is a serious form of sexual harassment and is illegal. Retaliation can take many forms, including termination, demotion, or other forms of punishment for resisting advances and/or reporting sexual harassment. It is important to remember that retaliation is not acceptable and that you have the right to seek help if you experience it.

How To Proactively Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment can happen to anyone, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, or background. Here are ways your organization can start proactively preventing harassment in the workplace:

  • Cultivating a culture of respect
  • Having policies in place that encourage appropriate behavior among employees, and consequences for when policies are not followed
  • Providing sexual harassment training that helps prevent workplace harassment 

Keep in mind that harassment prevention training should go beyond checking the compliance box. It should be designed to help prevent all types of sexual harassment in the workplace, reduce other forms of workplace discrimination, encourage bystander intervention, and further a culture of inclusion.

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February 21, 2023

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