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

Festival of Trees returns to West Kelowna’s Mission Hill Winery

The fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation will run Nov. 23 to Jan. 4

Proportional representation vote continues to draw low numbers

Only 6.5 per cent of eligible voters have cast ballots so far in B.C. referendum

Kelowna Skating Club skaters take home 10 medals and three provincial titles

Ava Sanderson was among the winners of the 2019 B.C and Yukon Sectional Championships

Kelowna to host World Junior pre-tournament game

Team Russia will take on Team Sweden at Prospera Place on Dec. 18

UBC Okanagan offers its expertise to struggling parents

Pilot walk-in clinic open to the public

Your weekday weather update

Flurries and more rain anticipated for the Okanagan - Shuswap

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Okanagan pickleball pair win bronze at nationals

Vernon and Kelowna players reach podium in California

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Couple allegedly caught staking out Okanagan home

The man and woman were seen in a black Suzuki Tracker with a white back

Most Read