By Image Analyzer on May 01, 2024

The Unsettling Reality of Workplace Tech Facilitated Sexual Harassment

In an extensive study on workplace technology-facilitated sexual harassment (WTFSH), findings reveal a concerning trend within Australian workplaces. According to the report by ANROWS, an alarming 1 in 7 Australian adults surveyed admit to engaging in WTFSH. More startling is the revelation that 31% of respondents encountered or engaged in not safe for work (NSFW) content through work email, highlighting a significant issue within professional communication channels.

Understanding WTFSH and Its Impact

WTFSH encompasses a range of inappropriate behaviors facilitated by digital tools and platforms in the workplace. These behaviors include but are not limited to sending unsolicited sexual messages, sharing explicit images, and other forms of digital harassment. The misuse of work email as a conduit for such content not only breaches professional etiquette but also contributes to a hostile work environment, impacting employee well-being and productivity.

Employers' Duty of Care

In many jurisdictions, employers are legally required to shield their employees from sexual harassment. They can be held vicariously liable for an employee's actions unless they can prove that all reasonable measures were taken to prevent such misconduct. This includes, at a minimum, the implementation of a clear and appropriate email use policy that is not only in place but also actively enforced, monitored, and communicated to all staff. Simply having a written policy is not enough. Without proper communication, education, and enforcement measures, such a policy is ineffective and may not suffice to absolve an employer from liability.

Dealing with Digital Misconduct in the Workplace

The report's findings underscore the urgent need for robust strategies to address and mitigate WTFSH:

  1. Policy Enforcement: Organizations must enforce strict policies that clearly define and prohibit WTFSH, including specific guidelines about the appropriate use of work email.
  2. Education and Training: Regular training sessions should be conducted to educate employees about what constitutes WTFSH and the severe repercussions of such actions.
  3. Reporting Mechanisms: Establishing clear and accessible reporting mechanisms will encourage victims and witnesses of WTFSH to come forward, ensuring timely interventions.
  4. Cultural Shifts: Leaders must foster a workplace culture that promotes respect and professionalism, actively discouraging any form of harassment.

Is NSFW Material Being Exchanged via Your Company Email?

Many organizations are unaware if NSFW material is being exchanged via their company email, as the sheer volume of legitimate images exchanged makes it difficult to manually identify inappropriate communications.

Image Analyzer Visual Threat Intelligence

Image Analyzer employs advanced AI to scrutinize every image attachment within emails, detecting sexually explicit and NSFW content with near-zero false positives. This tool plays a crucial role in demonstrating an employer’s duty of care by:

  • Identifying users who misuse the email system.
  • Monitoring emails that contain high-risk image attachments.
  • Educating users about the company’s email usage policy.
  • Enforcing the policy as required.

What is the first step?

The initial step in assessing the health of your email environment involves activating Image Analyzer in an audit mode. Fortunately, Image Analyzer is available as an optional module within many leading email security solutions. Contact your vendor to begin your audit and gain insight into the health of your email environment.

Read the full report at

Workplace technology-facilitated sexual harassment: Perpetration, responses and prevention - ANROWS - Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety

Published by Image Analyzer May 1, 2024