A new from the Canadian government suggests harassment in the workplace is not only a widespread problem in Canada, but it too often goes unreported or isn’t handled properly.
Sixty percent of Canadians who took part in an online survey held by the government report harassment in the workplace, with a third saying it was sexual harassment, a fifth dealing with violence and 3% say sexual violence.
Harassment and sexual violence in the workplace negatively impact not only the person experiencing these behaviors, but also their families, coworkers, and their employers.
According to the Federal Jurisdiction Workplace Survey, there were 295 formal complaints of sexual harassment brought to the attention of the employer in 2015. About 80% of the complaints were from women. There were 1,601 reported incidents of violence in 2015; 60% of injured or targeted employees were men.
Online survey respondents reported that harassment (of a non-sexual nature) was the most common type of behaviour, with 60% having experienced it. Sexual harassment was experienced by 30%, violence by 21% and sexual violence by 3%.
During the consultations, stakeholders raised the importance of looking at harassment from the perspective of gender-based violence and other forms of discrimination. Among survey respondents, 94% of those who reported experiencing sexual harassment were women, while people with disabilities and members of a visible minority were more likely to experience harassment than other groups.
Under‑reporting and insufficient data on workplace harassment and violence were identified as major issues that should be addressed in any new framework. Stakeholders agreed that to reduce workplace harassment and violence and speed up resolution, data should be collected to track results, and privacy of the data collected must be ensured.
The Canadian government said is committed to taking meaningful action to address the full spectrum of harassment and sexual violence at work, and will announce next steps in the near future.