Workplace harassment declining but still pervasive

Fewer people reporting male harassers: Survey

The percentage of Canadians who have witnessed or experienced harassment in the workplace has noticeably declined in the last two years, according to poll commissioned by Queen’s School of Business.

One-quarter (23 per cent) of Canadians said they have personally experienced workplace harassment in their own life, down from 28 per cent in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of people who said they have witnessed workplace harassment has dropped to 25 per cent, down from 33 per cent in 2012.

Four per cent of respondents said they are currently experiencing workplace harassment, or have in the last year, which is virtually unchanged from 2012.

While more men said they have witnessed workplace harassment than women (30 per cent versus 20 per cent), the opposite is the case when it comes to personally experiencing it in their own work life. Roughly one in three females (31 percent) has or is currently experiencing workplace harassment versus 22 per cent of males, found the survey of 1,501 Canadians.

“It’s encouraging that incidents of workplace harassment appear to be declining. It suggests that recent legislation and increased education against workplace harassment in Canada is helping. However, the fact that roughly one out of four people still admit to experiencing it personally is hardly cause for a celebration,” said Jana Raver, associate professor at Queen’s School of Business.

“Society has made great strides in virtually eliminating many traditional job-related risks, and now we must apply the same commitment to eradicating workplace harassment, which is often less obvious.”

University-educated employees were the most likely to report they have experienced or are currently experiencing workplace harassment (29 per cent), compared to those who have a high school education or less (23 per cent), found the survey.

The percentage of people reporting a male harasser has declined from 50 per cent in 2012 to 42 per cent in 2014, while the percentage reporting female harassers has remained the same at 23 per cent. However, the percentage of Canadians who said they have witnessed workplace harassment inflicted by both males and females has jumped to 35 per cent from 27 per cent two years ago.

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