Persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, sexual minority groups often fall victims
Among faculty and researchers in Canada's postsecondary institutions, some groups are far more vulnerable to experiencing harassment and discrimination, according to a report from Statistics Canada (StatCan).
Specifically, women (34 per cent) are far more likely to go through this experience within the past 12 months compared with men (22 per cent).
Humiliating behaviour was the most common type of workplace harassment within colleges and universities, as it was experienced by 22 per cent of women and seven per cent of men.
This is followed by verbal abuse as experienced by 20 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men.
Women are also far more likely to experience unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment (seven per cent) compared with men (two per cent).
Four per cent of women respondents experienced two or more instances of unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment in the year preceding the survey, compared with 0.8 per cent of men respondents.
Also, nearly half (46 per cent) of respondents who self-report having experienced some form of harassment in the year prior, over 1.5 times the proportion for respondents without disabilities (26 per cent).
Forty per cent of First Nations, Métis and Inuit faculty and researchers experienced humiliating behaviour, verbal abuse, or another form of harassment in the year preceding the survey. This compares with 27 per cent of non-Indigenous staff and researchers.
Who is responsible?
A full two-thirds (66 per cent) of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows who experienced harassment identified the perpetrator as a person with direct authority over them or who occupied a senior position in the academic community.
In contrast, colleagues or peers (43 per cent), along with students (42 per cent), were most often identified as responsible for workplace harassment against university and college teachers.
“For both researchers and faculty members, the overwhelming majority of respondents identified men as the persons responsible, ranging from 60 per cent0 to 80 per cent depending on the relationship of the victim to the harasser and the gender of the victim,” according to StatCan.
Most faculty and researchers (70 per cent) targeted by workplace harassment took some form of action. These include confronting the person or people responsible for the harassment, reporting the harassment to someone with the authority to act, talking to someone else at their institution or filing a formal complaint.
Women (73 per cent) are far more likely to take action compared with men (65 per cent). However, when it comes to unwanted sexual attention or sexual harassment both sexes are of the same level when it comes to taking action: 72 per cent of men compared with 71 per cent of women.
When it comes to workplace harassment, it is important for employers to set a speak-up culture, according to Elizabeth Owens Bille, Senior Vice President, Workplace Culture at EVERFI.
“Many companies are facing difficult workplace culture issues, including harassment and discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, and workplace violence. In order to effectively address concerns, and promote a great working environment, silence is not golden: organizations must know whether, where, and when problems exist.”
Here are some tips she shared to encourage a speak-up culture:
- Get rid of your “zero tolerance” policies.
- Prevent retaliation.
- Encourage and reward speaking up in the workplace.
- Gather data about reporting.
- Be transparent.