Gender Issues

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 43–61 | Cite as

Reporting Sexual Harassment: The Importance of Organizational Culture and Trust

  • Ganga VijayasiriEmail author
Original Article


Few victims of sexual harassment at work file complaints. The current study looks at ways in which the organizational climate, including trust in the system and fear of reprisal, impacts victim decisions to file complaints. A military sample offers the advantage of a work context with formalized reporting processes and a highly segregated and gendered work environment. The findings indicate that fear of coworker backlash keeps victims from seeking organizational relief. Such non-formal consequences of reporting should be addressed in future workplace sexual harassment policies. The findings also suggest that widespread mishandling of complaints erodes trust in the grievance process, which may in turn influence future responses to sexual harassment. The discussion highlights the limitations of current cross-sectional research designs for identifying the causal order of this trust-filing relationship and suggests ways in which future quantitative studies may be designed to gain a broader understanding of the dynamic relationship between organizational context and victim response.


Sexual harassment Formal reporting Grievance procedures Retaliation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of IllinoisChicagoUSA

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