Survey Indicates Over Half of Women in the Workplace Face Sexual Harassment

November 02, 2017


A new survey done by Abacus Data indicates nearly 60 percent of women in the workforce in Canada between the ages of 30 and 44 say they have experienced unwanted sexual pressure at work. A further 20 percent of women polled go on to say that this kind of harassment happens very often to them. On the other side, 85 percent of men say it never happens to them. 

The survey follows hard on the heels of numerous allegations of sexual harassment leveled against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Many more actors and artists have come forward to shed light on what appears to be a systemic problem in the movie industry with many male stars now accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour. The Abacus survey, of course, isn't about what happens in Hollywood, it's about what happens every day in Canadian businesses.

What constitutes sexual harassment? The BC Human Rights Clinic breaks it into three parts:

  1. Conduct of a sexual nature which is gender-based
  2. Conduct that is unwelcome
  3. Conduct that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job- related consequences


The numbers in the study are, quite frankly, disturbing. It's a good time for any business to revisit company policies around harassment of any kind. BBB prides itself on trust and transparency at every level and this includes operating with the following standards in day-to-day operations.

BBB policies are very clear.

We do not tolerate harassment or bullying on any grounds. This includes:

  • Unwelcome sexual suggestions or requests
  • Unwelcome touching or physical contact
  • Staring at or making unwelcome comments about someone’s body
  • Jokes based on gender, sexual orientation, or racial stereotypes
  • Comments that make fun of or belittle or insult co-workers because of their sex, pregnancy, race, or disability
  • Racist, sexist, or anti-gay publications displayed in the workplace
  • Any unwelcome behaviour such as starting rumours related to a person’s race, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics


What do you do if you are faced with harassment? (From the BC Human Rights Clinic)

  • Speaking out and making it clear that you do not approve of what is happening
  • Telling your supervisor or someone higher up about your concern and asking them to help
  • Follow your employers’ procedures set out in their harassment policy
  • Prepare and keep a detailed record of the incident(s)
  • Talk to a union rep or shop steward, and consider filing a human rights complaint


Whether BBB is dealing with consumers and businesses or employees and colleagues, mutual respect and understanding are paramount to our success.