How to spot harassment in your office

How to spot harassment in your office

How to spot harassment in your office Following the allegations that Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted several actresses and colleagues, more and more high-profile names have been accused of acting inappropriately at work.

Most recently, former Blue Jay and Sportnet commentator Gregg Zaun was fired, after female employees spoke out with allegations of inappropriate behaviour. Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media, issued a statement clarifying: “After investigating the matter, we decided to terminate his contract, effective immediately.

“This type of behaviour completely contradicts our standards and our core values. We are grateful to our employees who spoke with us and we will take every measure to protect their privacy.”

Last month, groups who represent Canada’s film and television industries came together to make steps toward fighting sexual harassment in the sector.

In a released statement, the groups said: “This moment presents us all with an opportunity to focus a spotlight on the prevention of sexual harassment. We are committed to working in partnership to build solutions and will continue to provide updates as they become available.''

With a slew of harassment lawsuits piling forth, it’s time organizations consulted their HR teams, in order to prevent such indiscretions from happening in the first place.

Over 90% of Canadian women claim to have experienced sexual harassment at some point during their working lives, according to Canadian Labour Relations, with the same amount of male colleagues admitting that they have known about at least one harassment incident.

So, how do you categorise ‘sexual harassment’? The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that sexual harassment can take “many forms”.

The statement added: “Sexual harassment is not limited to demands for sexual favours made under threats of adverse job consequences should the employee refuse to comply with the demands. Victims of harassment need not demonstrate that they were not hired, were denied a promotion or were dismissed from their
employment as a result of their refusal to participate in sexual activity.”

Furthermore, Human Rights laws state that sexual harassment doesn’t have to be about sexual desire – rather it often involves “hostility rejection, and/or bullying of a sexual nature”, according to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

This can include:
  • demanding hugs
  • unnecessary physical contact
  • sexual jokes
  • vulgar humour relating to gender
  • demanding an employee dress in a sexualised way
  • spreading sexual rumours
And it’s not just sexual harassment that’s a prevalent issue in our workplaces – the fight for inclusivity and an end to bias of all kinds is being heralded triumphantly by HR leaders across Canada. Speaking to HRD Canada, Martin Huack, director of talent at StackAdapt, revealed how HR should be rallying against discrimination of any kind.

“There’s a ton of material out there,” he told us. “There’s a whole list of things you can do that can elevate your company and tackle the challenge of unconscious bias. So, if you’re looking around or you’re reading this and you’re thinking ‘we could do better’, then there’s a lot of research you can do yourself, before having to pay a consultant, before having to hire your new director of diversity.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that unconscious bias isn’t impacting business in a negative way. It exists, and it always will – it’s unconscious, not something people are doing maliciously – so how can you set up your organization to avoid it?”

Huack will be speaking at HRD Canada’s Diversity & Inclusion Masterclass, March 8, 2018. For more information on our speaker line up and agenda, click here.


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