“Sexual harassment and harassment of any kind cannot be tolerated in government workplaces, so we’re hopeful that this initiative will mean that workers can come forward with concerns, and feel safe and free from reprisal when reporting harassment.” — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President
Winnipeg (13 Aug 2018) — Yesterday, the Government of Manitoba released the findings of 2 separate reports they commissioned to deal with the issues of sexual harassment and harassment in government workplaces. The reports included a number of recommendations for change.
The process undertaken by government included a policy review (conducted by an outside consultant) of current workplace harassment and sexual harassment policies, practices and procedures “in order to assess their effectiveness, identify gaps and make recommendations for improvements.”
It also included an engagement process with Manitoba employees at all levels and other stakeholders. This included 13 roundtable meetings on sexual harassment attended by 166 employees, while over 3,000 government workers anonymously completed an online survey developed by the Manitoba Status of Women Secretariat and the province’s Civil Service Commission.
17% of survey respondents said they’ve been sexually harassed at work
The findings of the engagement process were eye-opening. More than 500 Manitoba government workers — 82% of them women — came forward to report that they had been sexually harassed on the job. Of those that reported sexual harassment, 10% of workers said they were currently experiencing it, while 90% said they had experienced it on multiple occasions. More than a third said that they had been sexually harassed by a co-worker, while 19% said that this person was in a position of authority over them other than a direct supervisor.
The most frequent types of sexual harassment consisted of inappropriate contact (leering and invading personal space) and physical contact (touching, patting and pinching).
Sadly, some 70% of respondents said they did not report the harassment for a host of reasons, including fear of reprisal or negative implications for their career, a lack of confidence that any change would result, or a feeling that the harassment received wasn’t serious enough.
Report recommendations range from improved training to expanding role of workplace advisors
The outside consultant’s review of policies and procedures recommended that the government make use of in-person training as frequently as possible, with additional training for those employees designated to receive the complaints. It also recommended that roles and responsibilities in minimizing workplace harassment be clarified, while acknowledging that the government’s current “no wrong door” mechanism for reporting harassment should be maintained and assessed.
The report also recommended
- providing regular, recurrent training;
- expanding respectful workplace teams;
- removing perceived barriers to raising complaints;
- implementing clear and consistent procedures for addressing concerns;
- filling and increasing the number of workplace advisors and expanding the position’s duties and responsibilities;
- introducing timelines for investigations; and
- introducing communication requirements regarding those investigations.
MGEU/NUPGE hopeful recommendations will allow workers to report harassment without fear of reprisal
“We are pleased the government has undertaken this initiative and responded to our recommendation to undertake a consultation process with workers in the civil service,” said Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE). She noted that the union will be carefully reviewing the recommendations released yesterday.
“Sexual harassment and harassment of any kind cannot be tolerated in government workplaces, so we’re hopeful that this initiative will mean that workers can come forward with concerns, and feel safe and free from reprisal when reporting harassment.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE