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New Nordic report: Preventing sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment and prevention in the Nordic workplace was the focus of a two-year Nordic research initiative. Several projects have developed new methods and tools in collaboration with labour market stakeholders, managers and employees. The results are now available in a new report from NIKK.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a complex issue that touches on many different fields of knowledge and research. Nevertheless, international research reviews show that there is very little research on prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, and that research within and between Nordic countries is almost completely lacking. 

Working life in the Nordic countries has many similarities in terms of overall structures and regulations and in terms of common practices and routines. Yet we know relatively little about the significance of these structures for understanding or preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

To develop knowledge about sexual harassment in working life, the Nordic Council of Ministers initiated a Nordic research initiative 2021-2023 in collaboration with several sectors within the Nordic co-operation. The report “Preventing sexual harassment at work”, with a foreword by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s Prime Minister and Minister for Gender Equality, summarises the research initiative. It highlights the results of the five granted projects and discusses the premises for developing knowledge about sexual harassment in working life and ways forward. It is aimed at working life actors, policy makers, civil servants and anyone else who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the subject. The report provides insights into the challenges faced in preventing sexual harassment in different sectors as well as possible solutions.

Knowledge development in partnership and continued research

Cooperation with workplaces and stakeholders in working life and a Nordic dimension to the research were preconditions for being awarded research funding under the initiative. The researchers have been working together with the tourism and hospitality industry, health and social care, trade unions and workplace organisations, among others.

The projects have developed new tools and methods to prevent sexual harassment. Examples include a Nordic survey tool for comparisons between workplaces in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, a toolkit to raise awareness and create dialogue about sexist harassment in health and social care workplaces, and the development of an intervention tool to activate bystanders/witnesses to sexual harassment.

The research initiative was carried out in collaboration with the Nordic sectors for gender equality, culture and working life and the Nordic Committee for Children and Young People. Nordic cooperation and close collaboration with industries within the Nordic labour market has facilitated dissemination efforts and resulted in new collaborations.  Several projects also continue the initiated research in new projects.

Updated 6 May 2024