Survey finds high rate of workplace sexual harassment in Alberta, new online tool launched
A new survey finds that being sexually harassed at work can be a common and challenging occurrence, prompting one non-profit organization to create a new online resource for Alberta workers.
The Workers Resource Centre (WRC) commissioned a survey which found workplace sexual harassment in Alberta happens more frequently or is witnessed by workers more often than it is reported.
"That really shows us there is a gap in the supports that people feel are out there," said WRC executive director Carolyn Krahn.
The centre commissioned RA2 Research to conduct a survey in May.
Of the 509 Albertans surveyed, 49 per cent said they experienced workplace sexual harassment, while 61 per cent of respondents say they observed an instance of it.
"Despite the prevalence, the report found that sexual harassment is going largely unreported in the province, with just one in ten (11 per cent) indicating they reported an incident to a manager or boss, while even fewer described the incident to Human Resources (seven per cent)," reads a news release sent Tuesday.
The WRC has now launched a new website to provide tools to help, at hereforhelp.ca.
It includes a questionnaire on its main landing page designed to help determine if legal action, including a human rights tribunal, is the right step to take.
"Someone might land on the site, and (say to themselves) 'I don't know if this would be sexual harassment, but I'm feeling like something is not right.' And then through that series of questions realize that this is sexual harassment, and then we are providing an immediate avenue to do something about that," said Krahn.
RESPECT IN THE WORKPLACE
Leaders at sexual assault support charities say that the workplace can be a common setting for sexual abuse, because of built-in power dynamics.
One expert says decreasing harassment begins with employers enforcing respect and anti-harassment policies.
"That's easier said than done," said Danielle Aubry, CEO of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA). "You actually need to have a work environment that is quite welcoming of talking about these sorts of issues."
While others say it’s important to note that sexual harassment doesn’t affect just one specific group.
"Rates of sexual violence and harassment cross all boundaries of gender race ethnicity ability sexuality," said Corinne Ofstie, director of strategic initiatives with the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS).
She adds that victims of sexual harassment experience higher rates of poor mental health outcomes including anxiety and depression.
Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is a free phone and text line for anyone impacted by sexual violence/harassment and it can be accessed at 1-866-403-8000
The margin of error for the survey is +/- four per cent 19 times out of 20.