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Sexual harassment affects half of all women in the workplace: poll

Last Updated Dec 6, 2017 at 5:21 pm PST

Summary

One-third of working women report unwanted physical touching or patting from a co-worker: Insights West

Of women who did report sexual harassment in the workplace, few think the offender will be penalized

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Amidst ongoing sexual assault allegations affecting people in high-profile positions, there is more evidence sexual harassment is prevalent in industries far beyond just Hollywood.

Half of all working women asked across Canada say they’ve dealt with some kind of harassment in the workplace during their careers, according to a new poll from Insights West.

However, pollster Mario Canseco says a very small minority have reported it to a boss or their HR department.

“One of the reasons is, maybe you’re in a business that doesn’t have that structure that allows you to talk to a human resources person. But ultimately, I think part of the difficulty is women do not think that they’ll be trusted, that they think they’re going to be labelled as trouble makers, they don’t think their boss or their supervisor is going to take them seriously,” he explains.

More than one-in-three women who didn’t report harassment say they were concerned about being viewed in a negative light, while nearly the same number didn’t think their employer would do anything about it.

“When you look at it from the standpoint of the generations, there’s a little bit of a jump when it comes to sexual harassment in the form of essentially promising something down the road in your career… by doing something sexual. It’s definitely bigger with Generation X. If you’re between the ages of 35 to 54, you’re more likely to have faced this.”

Canseco says what was interesting was the number of women who claimed they were harassed, in some form, by their bosses.

“The one thing that we see more than anything is jokes of a sexual nature, either coming from a co-worker — which is more than half of the sample who are saying they’ve had to face this. Or actually coming from their boss or superior, which was also interesting in the sense that we wanted to have that difference between something that is happening with your workmates that might be discussed in a very different light, against something that is being told by the person you report to.”

Of those who did speak up, fewer than half say the offender was penalized or reprimanded.