Sexual Harassment: An Ethical Perspective

The Majority of Managers and Preventative Measures

The majority of managers now take preventative steps to keep their staff, particularly those in senior positions, free from sexual harassment, sex discrimination, and favoritism. Due to cultural variety, managing people's behavior presents an ethical conundrum to managers or organizations. (Bimrose 109).

Addressing Harassment and Ethical Backgrounds

A harassed person should ideally caution the harasser that their actions or words make the victim feel uncomfortable because they are a woman and reasonable. The majority of the time, the topic of harassment is focused on the sexuality of women as a legal matter for which they can seek redress. However, ethically, the sexual harassment goes being a senior manager interaction with employees and giving them promotions or favoritism based on copulation (Gutek 335). Instead, some of the ethical backgrounds of the individuals contribute to advancement with the aim of acquiring a specific benefit. Gendered roles such as attractiveness of the feminine body by the male counterparts contribute significantly to defining how they make choices in the advent of sexual harassment in the workplace, which could demotivate hardworking employees. In this regard, the following essay critically discusses the approaches of utilitarian ethics and the Kantian philosophies in regards to how they view sexual harassments based on their maxims.<\/p>

The Utilitarian Perspective

Based on the utilitarian theory, proponents such as Stuart and Bentham argue that the outcome of the action or behavior of an individual determines the rightness or wrongness of the same (Utilitarian Theories). Therefore, this consequentialism approach has an emphasis on the greatest good regardless of the mean in achieving that good. Most of the criticism points out such approaches that negate the fact that despite having good intention, a person cannot discern the future of consequences (Utilitarian Theories). Therefore, a good act can be justified as wrong because the result is not beneficial to many. On the other hand, bad acts can be defended as right since the outcome is for the greater good of the people. Another aspect besides focusing on the moral authority of an action is through following or refusing to abide by existing laws/rules (Utilitarian Theories). In this case, the correct response is that which adheres to the procedures given by an authoritative body, whereas, the wrong consists of lack of following the rules.<\/p>

Utilitarian Ethics and Sexual Harassment

In borrowing from the foundations above of utilitarianism to sexual harassment, the actions of a manager in intimidating a junior employer into agreeing to sexual advances against losing a job can be justified as right actions since both the needs of the employees and those of the manager are met (Gutek 336). However, most of the junior staff especially of the feminine gender has an ethical dilemma of whether to report the case against a threat of losing their job, leave the workplace, or tolerate the actions constituting to sexual harassment (Bimrose 109). In this light, the silence implies that they are willing to participate in the activity so that they achieve particular outcomes such as promotions. Based on the utilitarian perspective, if an individual gets the objective such as selective rewards, promotions, and favoritism based on the sexual interactions with higher ranking officials in a workforce, then this does not only not constitute to harassment but also a good act. Ideally, the lack of addressing the means of achieving this objective negates the feeling of other employees who equally work hard for the same benefits hence the consequences of their actions are neglected (Jagsi et al. 2120). Besides, an individual might participate in the same as a result of cultural structures that do not advocate for feminist rights which might lead to health side effects and decreased performance despite receiving the benefits. Therefore, the criticisms to the utilitarian perspective necessitate a change of approach into defining what constitutes sexual harassments in the workplace and if it is morally right or wrong.<\/p>

Kantian Philosophy and its Opposition to Utilitarianism

In this regard, Kantian philosophy offers the best opponent to utilitarianism and instead focuses more on the moral worth of the person, a perfect duty, and a universal law under the categorical imperative approach (Johnson and Adam). The ethics advanced by Kant oppose the utilitarianism approach by arguing that the motivation to behave in a particular way is critical rather than the end-result (Johnson and Adam). An action should, therefore, be an end in itself through considering it right if the individual is willing to see the same being applied to others or self, hence a universal maxim. In doing so, one can enjoy or not enjoy the act but is a fundamental categorical imperative thus; one should not be selfish (Johnson and Adam). Further, a morally worth person is that doing an action which through self-reflection also conforms not only to their values but consider it acceptable if performed on them or other individuals. The perfect duty comprises of these two aspects which include the universal law and the end in itself through treating other humans as self, and of every other (Johnson and Adam).<\/p>

Sexual Harassment and Kantian Ethics

Sexual harassment based on Kant's ethics, therefore, interrogates the nature of actions whether the result one achieves is the most positive consequentially (Johnson and Adam). For example, before a manager or an employee decides to make advancements to another to get promotions and favors, they have to reflect on the categorical imperative which is the moral right, if they can allow the same to happen to them that resonates with the thoughts of every other person too (Gutek 335). Unlike utilitarianism, therefore, the ethical considerations by Kant do not discriminate on the possibility of a genuine relationship that can lead to marriage or the stereotypes of particular genders regarding the attractiveness of the female body. Whereas an act of sexual harassment can be an initial stage of a long lasting relationship between individuals who work together, on the other hand, it can be for mutual gains as a consequence (Jagsi et al. 2120). Moreover, some businesses outlaw love relationships at work but the Kantian philosophy argues that if the acts do not discriminate the sex of an individual, then the action is rights and it is a perfect duty so long as it is not selfish. Besides, not following the rules in cases where there are threats or one is not bound by a command cannot hold the individual liable for their actions. In this regard, the rationale of focusing on the common good and means of achieving an end gives a more comprehensive ethical perspective of sexual harassment in the workplace.<\/p>


In conclusion, managers face ethical dilemmas in controlling work relationships or sexual advancements that constitute harassment of the female gender. However, little research focuses on moral dimensions of the values of individuals, and reasonability of women. In this light, the utilitarian and Kantian perspectives give two opposing views where the former concentrates on the consequences as a justification for an action or behavior as right, and the latter the means and motivation to achieving an objective. In comparison, Kantian ethics give a comprehensive approach to defining and explaining the ethical considerations of sexual harassment in the job environment.<\/p>

Works Cited

Bimrose, Jenny. "Sexual Harassment In The Workplace: An Ethical Dilemma For Career Guidance Practice?." British Journal of Guidance & Counselling 32.1 (2010): 109-121. Web. 22 Oct. 2017.

Gutek, Barbara A. "Understanding Sexual Harassment At Work." Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 6.6 (2012): 335-358. Web.

Jagsi, Reshma et al. "Sexual Harassment And Discrimination Experiences Of Academic Medical Faculty." JAMA 315.19 (2016): 2120. Web. 22 Oct. 2017.

Johnson, Robert, and Adam Cureton. "Kant's Moral Philosophy." N.p., 2016. Web. 22 Oct. 2017.

Utilitarian Theories, "Online Guide To Ethics And Moral Philosophy: Utilitarian Theories." N.p., 2017. Web. 22 Oct. 2017.

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