Community, Research

National survey focuses on workplace sexual harassment and violence

October 21, 2020

A new national survey will examine workers’ experiences of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. The Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) at Western University, researchers at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Labour Congress have teamed up for this ground-breaking initiative

Designed to reach unionized and non-unionized workers, the national survey will provide insight into why employees report or don’t report sexual harassment and/or violence at work. The research will also identify the types of responses workers receive when they report workplace sexual harassment and violence as well as the support they need.

“The MeToo movement is telling us a lot about how frequent and how damaging workplace sexual harassment is. Now we need to know why it has continued unabated for so long. Why don’t those who experience it report? What happens after they do report? This survey will give us the data we need to have serious conversations with policy makers, both governmental and at the workplace level about what we need to do next,” said Barb MacQuarrie, Community Director of CREVAWC.

In addition, the survey will examine the links between sexual harassment and other forms of violence in the workplace and how workers who are marginalized due to their social location and/or their precarious employment status are uniquely impacted.

With its broad reach, the survey will also identify differences between the experiences of unionized and non-unionized workers.

“This survey will help us to understand the context in which workplace harassment and violence is experienced by workers. That knowledge will enable us to make recommendations on how to bring about long-term, sustainable change.” said Dr. Sandy Welsh, Vice Provost, Students and Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and an Academic Research Associate at CREVAWC.

The survey builds on existing research about workplace violence and harassment, including bullying and physical violence.

While workplace sexual harassment and violence are serious health and safety issues, there’s a lack reliable data concerning barriers to reporting and what happens once a worker makes a report.

“This survey will help us understand workers’ experiences of violence and harassment in Canada,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Until we have that understanding, we have little chance of preventing harassment before it starts. All workers deserve to feel safe in their workplace.”

The survey will be live for six months and responses will be anonymous. The survey will provide a snapshot of workers in a variety of sectors and workplaces across the country, rather than examine specific workplaces or bargaining units. 

CREVAWC will also ensure that referral information as well as crisis and support phone numbers are available for anyone completing the survey.

The survey is funded by the Government of Canada’s Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Fund.