According to a new study titled, Harassment in Canadian workplaces, 2016, 19 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men reported that they experienced at least one type of harassment in the workplace in the previous 12 months.
The study examined the prevalence, type, and sources of workplace harassment among 9000 Canadian workers and the association between workplace harassment and a number of well-being indicators.
The results revealed verbal abuse is the most common type of harassment reported by Canadian workers, with 13 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men reporting it. After verbal abuse, the next most common type of harassment reported is humiliating behaviour, with six per cent of women and five per cent of men reporting it. And about four per cent of women and less than one per cent of men reported having experienced sexual harassment or unwanted sexual attention in the workplace.
Among people who said they were harassed in the past year at work, 53 per cent of women said a client or customer was responsible, compared with 42 per cent of men. According to the study one reason women report different harassment experiences than men is because women are more likely to work in health occupations, which involve a high degree of interaction with the public. Workers in health occupations (which includes nurses and doctors) had a 23 per cent probability of reporting that they had been harassed in the workplace, even after controlling for other factors.
Other factors – such as the presence of a mobility limitation, sexual orientation, Aboriginal status, union status, income and education – can also affect the probability of being harassed in the workplace.
Workplace harassment has a relationship with indicators of workplace well-being, such as job dissatisfaction, level of motivation to perform at one’s best, and sense of belonging to one’s current organization. There is also a significant relationship between workplace harassment and personal indicators of well-being, such as self-rated physical and mental health, and self-reported stress. Eighteen per cent of men and sixteen per cent of women who reported experiencing workplace harassment in the past year reported that they had poor mental health, compared with six per cent of men and eight per cent of women who had not been harassed.
Harassment by a supervisor or manager was associated with more negative effects on indicators of workplace well-being than harassment by someone else. More than one-fifth of women and men who had been harassed by a supervisor or manager reported that they were dissatisfied with their job, compared with less than five per cent of women and men who did not report that they had been harassed at work.
The research is based on data from the General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians at Work and Home. In the GSS, working-age Canadians were asked whether and how frequently, they experienced five types of workplace harassment in the past year – verbal abuse; humiliating behaviour; threats; physical violence; and unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment. It is important to note that self-reported workplace harassment does not necessarily imply that an official complaint was made.
The study, co-authored by Darcy Hango and Melissa Moyser in partnership with Statistics Canada’s Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics appears in the Insights on Canadian Society.