Addressing Harassment in the Workplace

December 11, 2017

We live in a time where “company culture” is a factor millennials weigh heavily when ultimately deciding between company A and company B. In light of recent events, stumbling upon the topic of sexual harassment doesn’t fall too far from the topic of workplace culture. Is it happening here? Where? Is something being done about it?

The rippling effect of the Ghomeshi case and Weinstein allegations, has drawn the attention of millions towards the magnitude of a long, ongoing problem. As people look for answers, the Canadian Federal Government has introduced legislation that aims to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace, Bill C-65.

What is Bill C-65?

This legislation is drawn from Bill 132, The Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, and requires employers to specifically address sexual harassment incidents.

Who will it affect?

This new legislation, if and when passed, will add onto employer obligations in federally regulated companies (airlines, radio, television and banks) when investigating incidents regarding sexual harassment. That makes up about 8% of the Canadian workforce.

The bill is now in its second reading at the House of Commons. In the meantime, let’s look at some ways to prevent sexual harassment in your workplace:

  1. Adopt a clear sexual harassment policy. You employee handbook should have a section devoted to sexual harassment that should:
    1. Define the term “ sexual harassment”. Clear definitions always help.
    2. State no tolerance
    3. State disciplinary actions
    4. Walk through a clear procedure for filing sexual harassment complaints
  2. Train Employees: This should be done at least once a year to inform or re-inform employees of their rights to a safe, harassment-free workplace, review the complaint procedure and always encourage employees to use it.
  3. Train Managers: This should also be done at least once a year to inform or re-inform employers how to effectively deal with incidents that happen in the workplace.
  4. Monitor your workplace: Employers should take the time to talk among their employees periodically regarding the environment, changes they would like to see, issues pertaining to other coworkers.
  5. Take all complaints seriously: Act immediately to investigate any complaints.

These are steps in the right direction but the spirit of amending these policies must be maintained in the workplace. Unless these policies are adopted and thoroughly understood by employers and their employees, harassment will remain the prevalent issue that it is today. It is a huge collective effort to establish a safe space and promote psychological health and wellness. So let’s all get out there, spread awareness and make our workplace a safe-space!

Contributed by Katelyn Ilagan
Intern at PTC Recruiting

For more information about Katelyn click on this picture

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