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Workplace sexual harassment in the hospitality sector from an intersectional perspective

The project aims to explore hospitality workers’ experiences of sexual harassment in Nordic workplaces and to understand how the intersectionality of identities and social locations impacts workers’ perceptions and experiences of harassment. A focus on LGBTQI+ individuals, migrant workers, and men – groups often excluded from sexual harassment research – will extend understanding of harassment in hospitality workplaces and allow workers to suggest measures that might mitigate the occasions and impact of sexual harassment in the hospitality sector.

Using participatory research methods and semi-structured interviews, workers in Sweden, Iceland and Norway will contribute to the research and the outcomes will be used to inform industry stakeholders about ways in which workers see sexual harassment can be combatted effectively.


Power Plays – preventing sexual harassment through memory work & forum theater in workplaces of care

The Power Plays project seeked to break the silencing of sexual harassment in workplaces of care, by promoting workplace cultures prone to actively prevent and deal with sexual harassment.

First, the Power Plays project developed a typology of existing sexual harassment prevention tools accompanied by guidelines for how to choose the right prevention strategy. Second, based on memory workshop interventions in workplaces of care across Denmark, Sweden and Finland, the Power Plays project contributed nuanced narrative cases of work-based experiences of sexual harassment. Third, grounded in these narratives, the Power Plays project developed authentic ‘Sexual harassment plays’ included in a forum theater prevention tool that can facilitate a safe, bodily and dialogical way of promoting safe workplace cultures and anti-sexual harassment literacy.

The Power Plays toolbox was tested in a variety of workplaces of care and disseminated through an independent website as well as through major care workers’ associations across the Nordic region.

The Power Plays toolbox was completed in April 2023. Read more about and get access to the toolbox here: Power Plays – preventing sexual harassment in workplace of care — Jämställd Utveckling Skåne (

Sexual Harassment in Tourism and Hospitality:  Using the past and present to inform the future

This interdisciplinary project took an intersectional approach to address concerns about the lack of prevention and intervention strategies within the tourism and hospitality sectors in the Nordic countries. The project utilised practice-based research activities in collaboration with working life actors in Iceland, Norway and Sweden to try and answer three research questions:

  • How have working life actors worked on prevention of sexual harassment in tourism and hospitality workplaces
  • What are definitions of sexual harassment in the tourism and hospitality sector across different Nordic contexts
  • How can understanding past/current trans-Nordic approaches to sexual harassment provide opportunities that lead to active prevention strategies for sexual harassment in tourism and hospitality workspaces? 

Through close examination of industry documents (reports, policies, campaign and marketing materials) and collaborative workshops with working life actors, this project aimed to provided the Nordic tourism and hospitality sector with relevant, current knowledge that aims to inform future industry preventative and interventional activities.

“Speak Up!”:  A practice-oriented research project on the prevention of Sexual Harassment (SUSH)

Responding to the call for prevention efforts being more aware of “intersecting stigmatized identities” which make some employees more vulnerable to sexual harassment than others, the SUSH project was positioned in the ethical infrastructure tradition and targets bystanders, whose actions may affect sexual harassment situations positively or negatively.

The main aim of the SUSH project was to develop and test the effects of theory- and research-based bystander sexual harassment interventions in close partnership with working life actors across three Nordic settings (Denmark, Sweden and Norway). An expected effect of the interventions was increased awareness of the negative consequences of passive or colluding bystander behaviour and of risk situations for sexual harassment. A long-term outcome of the SUSH-methodology in continuing projects, will be to provide empirically tested sexual harassment interventions to be used by workplaces in Nordic countries.

IWS-Nordic: A Nordic questionnaire assessing sexual harassment at work

Following standardized methods for questionnaire development, this project developed and validated a questionnaire to assess sexual harassment in a standardized manner, across the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The Danish questionnaire Inventory of Workplace Sexual Harassment (IWS) was translated into Norwegian and Swedish. Using these Norwegian and Swedish versions of the questionnaire, survey data from employees in Norway and Sweden were collected. In combination with Danish data, this pooled dataset containing survey data from the three included countries was used to evaluate the questionnaire psychometrically and to identify a core of items that measure sexual harassment similarly across the included countries.

This Nordic questionnaire (IWS-Nordic) provides an essential tool for comparative research on sexual harassment between the countries and for workplaces to initiate and monitor preventive action.

Customer Sexual Harassments in the Nordic Service Workplace

This project aimed to carry out a critical analysis of how Nordic ideals regarding management and organisation impact the work environment of employees within service and retail. The project had a particular focus on ideals concerning customer orientation, often perceived as “natural” and self-evident to Nordic service organisational practice. The project analysed the consequences of prioritising the customer, for example how this leads to problematic power relationships between customer and employee.

The project has developed knowledge about if a customer-focused organisation can generate an unequal work environment, by upholding power and gender structures. And if these structures in turn provide an arena for violence and sexual harassment of service and retail employees. 

Research-based knowledge to combat sexual harassment and bullying among children and young people

The project aimed to increasing research-based sexual harassment knowledge within organisations working to combat bullying in the Nordic region and Lithuania, and within their target groups.

The main activities was networking meetings and sharing and disseminating research-based methods through a one-day conference for the partners’ target groups and a report highlighting the knowledge gained within the project, as well as methods and tools such as:

  • Tools for mapping sexual harassment at school,
  • Initiatives to change the school climate and unsafe places,
  • Initiatives to combat sexual harassment and exploitation online,
  • Knowledge about body image and pornography, and
  • An action plan course to combat sexual harassment.

The project was designed to share knowledge between the main anti-bullying organisations in the Nordic region and neighbouring Lithuania, and to disseminate effective methods to prevent sexual harassment. All the parties involved contributed via their specific competences and perspectives, and involved experts.

The results are summarised in the report Sexual harassment and Bullying in the Nordic Region.

Sexual harassment in the health sector

The health sector has a high share of part-time and temporary employments, as well as high rates of sick leave. As such, it is particularly vulnerable to different forms of power abuse.

This project developed a Nordic network that mapped how Nordic municipalities counteract sexual harassment in the health sector. The comparative work resulted in a booklet on how to work pro-active to counteract sexual harassments.

The results were presented in conjunction with a Nordic digital conference, and were also made available in the different municipalities.

For more information, please see the final report.

A Nordic model for youth driven prevention of sexual harassment and violations

As recently evidenced by the metoo movement, women and girls as well as LGBTIQ, continue to experience sexism and violations in the public space, also in the Nordic countries. With this project we wanted to ensure that youth protect each other and respect their own and others’ rights and boundaries in relation to gender, body and sexuality. We therefore developed a Nordic model for youth-driven prevention of sexual harassment and violations.

Strengthening the engagement of youth in the prevention of sexual harassment and violations will contribute to the well-being of this generation and transformative change. It will also contribute to the formation of new champions who can take the agenda forward in new ways and maintain the position of the Nordic countries as front-runners in the advancement of gender equality globally. Building on the joint experience and knowledge of the Family Planning Associations of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, the project developed a scalable model campaign to reach and engage young people to this end, which can be replicated or adapted to the context of additional Nordic countries and beyond.

Investigation of harassment and sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment is a major problem in the hotel and restaurant industry. Studies of experienced sexual harassment amongst members of the Norwegian Commonwealth Association and the Danish Federation of Professional Associations 3F show that 21 percent in Norway and 24 percent in Denmark have experienced sexual harassment in employment. In Sweden, approximately 13 percent of female employees in the hotel and restaurant industry have experienced sexual harassment from customers, and 6 percent say they have experienced sexual harassment from managers or colleagues.

This project conducted a study to gain more knowledge about effective handling of cases of harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. Part of this work was to investigate the relationship between sexual harassment and harassment on other grounds. The study and work against harassment was the theme of a seminar in the fall of 2018. Target groups included persons with experience of the hotel and restaurant industry and/or workplace harassment. 

Updated 10 March 2020