Stories of workplace sexual harassment have started conversations about the impact of such experiences on workers, but researchers now want to put hard data behind the narratives to push for meaningful policy change.
That has led the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to team up with researchers from Western University and the University of Toronto to launch a country-wide survey about the impact of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.
The online survey will be open to anyone in a Canadian workplace for the next six months, said Barb MacQuarrie, the community director of Western University’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children.
“We’re going all across Canada and we really want to hear from workers in every sector, every position, every identity. We want to get as clear a picture as we can about what’s happening in workplace harassment all across the country,” MacQuarrie said.
“We are really interested in being able to compare the experiences of people in more precarious employment and those in more permanent, regular positions as well.”
The national survey is the second such collaboration between researchers and the Canadian Labour Congress. The first looked at the impacts of domestic violence on the workplace.
Reliable data missing
“This survey will help us understand workers’ experiences of violence and harassment in Canada,” said Hassan Yussuff, president of the CLC.
“Until we have that understanding, we have little chance of preventing harassment before it starts. All workers deserve to feel safe in their workplace.”
Those behind the survey say workplace sexual harassment and violence are serious health and safety issues, but there is a lack of reliable data about barriers to reporting and what happens once a worker makes a report.
“We want to be able to put some numbers from a large data set from stories that are emerging, especially because of the Me Too movement,” MacQuarrie said.
“There are many, many, many incidents that are not being reported.”
The data can then be used to ask governments, workplaces and policymakers to make changes that limit the ability of harassment to thrive and removes barriers to reporting, she added.
The survey will be open for six months. The responses will be anonymous.