This paper was chosen for commentary due to previous research I have done on this topic, sexual harassment in the service industry as a whole. However, this paper has more of a focus, mainly on flight attendants, which I find very interesting.
As this paper highlights, there are significant impacts sexual harassment can cause for flight attendants such as stress, depression and their general health and well-being. From a study in 2006, the results revealed that flight attendants suffer from psychological distress from many work pressures, one being sexual harassment. It was found to be more common among those that were in service than those who were no longer working (Ballard, et al., 2006).
In terms of the main perpetrators of sexual harassment, this discussion paper focuses on customers being the main culprit. However, similarly to many other jobs in the service and hospitality industry, and many other industries, colleagues, mainly supervisors and those higher up in the organisation are also known to behave in a manipulative, harassing manor. Within Ballard et al. (2006) research, half of the women participants reported sexual harassment from a colleague or co-worker during their career as flight attendants. Only 22.1% of women reported sexual harassment by passengers which is a big difference compared to those harassed by colleagues.
As touched upon in this article, the management of organisation and training in terms of sexual harassment is poor. In fact, many organisations encourage such behaviour by urging flirtation, appealing uniforms, and customer pleasing as part of their employees’ job role and requirements. Many management professionals in the service industry go by phrase, ‘the customer is always right’ which, in terms of sexual harassment and other types of threatening and unwanted behaviour, they may not be always right at all (Williams, 2003). This is where reporting incidents in very important. A recent survey by Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (2018) stated in their research findings of similar research, only 7% of the flight attendants who experienced sexual harassment reported it to their employer. 68% of those surveyed, say they had not noticed any employer efforts in terms of sexual harassment at work (AFA, 2018). Fundamentally, this shows a major issue in the airline industry and the service industry as a whole.
In terms of this discussion paper, I do feel not all aspects of sexual harassment has been discussed. There are limitations in terms of only women being the victims and only customers being the perpetrator, which has been heavily proven through numerous literature that colleagues are a major offender.
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (2018) Survey Reveals Widespread Harassment of Flight Attendants. Available from http://www.afacwa.org/survey_reveals_widespread_harassment_of_flight_attendants
[accessed 16 May 2018].
Ballard, T.J., Romito, P., Lauria, L., Vigiliano, V., Caldora, M., Mazzanti, C. and Verdecchia, A. (2006) Self perceived health and mental health among women flight attendants. Occupation and Environmental Medicine, 63, 33-38.
Williams, C. (2003) Sky Service: The Demands of Emotional Labour in the Airline Industry. Gender, Work and Organisation, 10 (5), 513-550.