Sexual harassment in the workplace is an ‘epidemic,’ says survey

Sexual harassment in Canadian workplaces is an “epidemic that has been allowed to persist.”

Sexual harassment is far more prevalent in Canadian workplaces than company executives would like to believe, a new report says.

Indeed, the report from the Human Resources Professionals Association says recent revelations of harassment in the political, media, entertainment and business sectors have exposed the “dark reality” that sexual harassment in the workplace is an “epidemic that has been allowed to persist.”

In a survey of the association’s members, 17 per cent reported having witnessed an employee being sexually harassed or assaulted at work.

And 19 per cent reported an increase in the number of complaints they’ve received about harassment, a percentage that is not “dramatic” but “still significant.”

Related: #MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

The report notes that an online survey of 2,000 Canadians conducted by Navigator in February found that just over one third of female respondents and 12 per cent of men said they had been sexually harassed at work.

Yet, in another survey of company executives, conducted by the Gandalf Group, 94 per cent of respondents said sexual harassment is not a problem in their workplaces and 93 per cent believed they have a corporate culture that prevents it.

“These numbers are not in keeping with the rates of sexual harassment reported, which are also lower than the number of instances of harassment that actually occur,” the report says, noting that research suggests as much as 80 per cent of victims do not report the problem to anyone.

Related: B.C. police officers disciplined following harassment complaint

It also says 70 per cent of the association’s members who took part in the survey reported that their senior management is responsive to recommendations for dealing with sexual harassment policies.

However, 24 per cent said management is responsive but recommendations “are not always implemented.”

The association says all workplaces — including public institutions and political parties— must establish a zero-tolerance culture when it comes to sexual harassment.

That includes drafting a stand-alone policy, separate from other workplace conduct policies, to deal specifically with sexual assault and harassment, which the report says are “egregious forms of abuse which require specialized and highly sensitive handling.”

The policy should clearly define what constitutes sexual assault and harassment and spell out a fair process for lodging and investigating complaints. It should also involve training sessions for employees on what to do if harassed and training for supervisors on how to prevent harassment.

The association also calls on the federal government to expand its recently introduced bill to combat sexual harassment and assault in federally regulated workplaces to include the armed forces — an omission that it calls “concerning, given the multiple lawsuits and allegations against the Canadian military for failing to protect female officers from sexual assault and gender-based discrimination.”

Related: Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Shag Creek area under evacuation order, area expanded

93 properties are being told to evacuate immediately

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Northern B.C. residents face more evacuation orders as some smoke clears up

Regional District of BulkleyNechako issued new, expanded evacuation orders for remote areas Saturday

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

Most Read