40% of employers take reactive approach to workplace harassment: HRPA

Fewer than half (40 per cent) of human resources professionals said their organization takes a reactive rather than a proactive approach to sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a new survey by the Human Resources Professionals Association.

The survey also found 17 per cent of respondents have witnessed an employee being sexually harassed or assaulted and 20 per cent said there has been an increase in claims of sexual harassment in recent months. Just over half (53 per cent) of respondents said they believe instances of sexual harassment in their industry is about average and 96 per cent said they have an official workplace harassment policy in place.

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Alongside the survey, the Human Resources Professionals Association is recommending all private and public organizations adopt a standalone sexual harassment and assault policy or revisit their current policy to ensure it’s adequate. 

“Organizations should also empower HR staff to implement, train and enforce sexual harassment policies to ensure that sexual harassment is not only addressed but prevented from happening in the first place,” said Scott Allinson, vice-president of public affairs at the association, in a news release. “HRPA members are in the unique position of being at the forefront of addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Sexual harassment has no place in our workplaces, and organizations are rightly under immense pressure to address and prevent it,” he added. “Employers have a key role to play and must do their duty and understand how Canadian law defines sexual harassment to properly implement policies and procedures to combat this serious issue.”

Read: Tips for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace