1 in 4 women dealing with sexualized behaviours at work

Trades, transportation most problematic sectors

1 in 4 women dealing with sexualized behaviours at work

Many Canadians have had to deal with incidents of inappropriate sexualized behaviours at work, according to a report from Statistics Canada (StatCan).

Specifically, 25 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men say they had such experiences in the workplace in 2019.

New regulations around workplace harassment and violence for federally regulated workplaces took effect at the start of the year.

Women are also far more likely to have experienced inappropriate verbal or non-verbal communication (22 per cent compared with 15 per cent for men) and unwanted physical contact or suggested sexual relations (12 per cent compared with four per cent for men). But both, men (three per cent) and women (two per cent), have the same likelihood to have experience with sexually explicit materials in the workplace.

Women are also more likely to experience discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation (10 per cent) than men (five per cent).

In October 2020, researchers launched a national survey to gauge the severity of violence and harassment in Canada’s workplaces.

Sectoral differences

Women are also far more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace throughout the following sectors:


Women (per cent)

Men (per cent)

Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupation



Natural and applied sciences and related occupations 



Sales and service






Manufacturing and utilities



Art, culture, recreation and sport



Education, law and social, community and government services






Business, finance and administration



Previously, one company says that an app developed in partnership with Canada’s Department of Justice might help eliminate the issue of harassment.

Reporting and investigation

While workplaces in Canada must comply with anti-harassment and discrimination laws, 32 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men had not received any information from their employer on how to report sexual harassment and sexual assault.

In October, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) in partnership with the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) at Western University and a researcher at the University of Toronto launched a study to see if people have been victims of sexual harassment at work and why do they choose to report or not report those experiences.

“When a person believes that she or he has been sexually harassed, she or he should try, where possible, to resolve the problem through any internal policies or resolution mechanisms the organization may have in place. However, while many companies now have internal human rights claim-resolution mechanisms, these procedures do not always replace a person's right to file a human rights claim with the HRTO, or to proceed in other ways,” according to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

“But even if a person has decided to pursue a remedy outside of an internal procedure, an organization must still investigate and respond appropriately to the incident, from both an individual and a systemic point of view.”

Here are some guidelines on conducting sexual assault investigations in Ontario, according to two legal experts.

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