A recent report Conducted by Statistics Canada from 9,000 workers, aged 15 to 64, found almost one in five women had been harassed at work at some point during the year, while one in every eight men reported similar experiences.
The reported harassment included verbal abuse, humiliating behaviour, threats, violence and unwanted sexual attention or harassment.
Women report more abuse
The survey reported that 13 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men had experienced Verbal abuse in the prior 12 months, with six per cent of women and five per cent of men reporting that they had been subjected to humiliating behaviour.
Women were found to have suffered physical violence at twice the rate of men and were five times as likely to report sexual harassment or unwanted sexual attention.
Harassment was more pronounced among women and men who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual compared to heterosexuals. Indigenous women were also more likely to suffer harassment compared to non-indigenous women.
The survey also found clients, customers, supervisors and managers were the most common reported source of harassment. Women and men employed in sectors involving direct contact with the public reported the most harassment, with health occupations reporting the most. In this sector, 27 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men indicated they had suffered harassment in the last year.
Statistics Canada researchers looked at the association between workplace harassment and work environment. Those surveyed reported a poor-quality work environment, including a lack of input into decision-making, competition among colleagues, conflict with managers, and unmanageable workloads. A full 40 per cent of women for instance reported rarely or never experiencing manageable workloads.
Recognized as a global workplace problem, the International Labour Organization recently passed a resolution recognizing harassment and violence “can constitute a human rights violation or abuse…is a threat to equal opportunities, is unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.” It serves as a reminder for member states, including Canada; they have a responsibility to promote a “general environment of zero tolerance.”
Employers in Canada have a legal obligation to address the issue of workplace harassment and violence. Employers are required to develop a workplace harassment policy (in addition to a workplace violence policy). These policies must include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents and how they will be investigated and addressed.
Unfortunately, unlike the violence program requirements, some provinces have no specific requirement for the prevention of harassment.
Courtesy of the Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) www.whsc.on.ca