Standing Committee on the Status of Women Tuesday, April 16, 2013 Chair FEWO

Standing Committee on the Status of Women Tuesday, April 16, 2013 Chair FEWO
Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Ms. Marie-Claude Morin
Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
● (1140)
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon (Miramichi,
CPC)): Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our guests here this
When I call your name, I'd like you to raise your hand so we will
know who you are.
First today is Barbara MacQuarrie. Welcome, and thank you for
giving us your time today. The second speaker will be Jennifer
Berdahl. Thank you for being here. And last but not least, we have
Sandy Welsh.
Thank you all for taking time from your busy schedules to be with
us today.
We will start with Barbara MacQuarrie. Each of you has 10
minutes to address us, and then we will turn to questions.
Ms. MacQuarrie, welcome. You can go ahead now.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie (Community Director, Faculty of
Education, Western University, Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children): Thank you.
I'm the community director at the Centre for Research &
Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western
University. My interest in this problem grew out of my work to
support women who experienced serious and ongoing sexual
harassment, and through my contact with the Vince family, who
lost Theresa Vince to sexual harassment that escalated to murder.
I co-authored a 2004 report on workplace harassment with Dr.
Sandy Welsh, whom you will hear from later, and Jacquie Carr,
Theresa Vince's daughter.
In a recently released HBO documentary, Gloria
Steinem reflects on the following: In the seventies there was no
word for sexual harassment. There was no notion that you could name it in public
and certainly not that it had a legal remedy.
In 1979, Constance Backhouse and Leah Cohen published the
first book on sexual harassment in Canada, called The Secret
Oppression: Sexual Harassment of Working Women.
I’d like to use my time today to reflect upon the gains we have
made since we first put a name to the problem and to briefly consider
the work still ahead of us.
Backhouse and Cohen’s book was an important step in building
public awareness of workplace sexual harassment. They were joined
in the effort of bringing the problem into public view by
governments, communications firms, institutes of higher learning,
and employers. Sexual harassment became the subject of legislation,
training, and research. Obviously, we have made progress on the
public naming of the problem. Whether or not our increased public
awareness helps women to report sexual harassment when they
experience it in their workplaces is a question I will return to later in
my presentation.
Accepting that naming a problem is the first step to
resolving it, let me turn our attention to Gloria
Steinem’s next assertion that there is no legal
sexual harassment. The Canadian Human Rights
Act was amended in 1983 to make sexual
harassment a form of sex discrimination. As an
archived HRSDC document notes:Legal recognition of sexual
harassment as a form of sex discrimination was an affirmation of how women’s
economic well-being was disparately undermined by sexual harassment.
In 1985, shortly after the amendments to the Canadian Human
Rights Act, provisions on sexual harassment were added to the
federal labour standards legislation, shaping public policy and
signalling a resolve from the federal government to combat the
problem. It makes the issue of sexual harassment not only a human
rights concern but also an industrial relations problem.
The federal human rights legislation was tested by Bonnie
Robichaud, a lead-hand cleaner at the air defence command base in
North Bay. In 1980 she filed a complaint of sexual harassment
against her supervisor and her employer. When she faced serious
reprisals and the situation was not resolved, she fought the sexual
harassment through all means available to her, including a complaint
of discrimination on the basis of sex, with the Canadian Human
Rights Commission.
The Supreme Court decision in Robichaud v.
Treasury Board (1987) underscored the judicial
recognition that employers are responsible for
harassment in the workplace. The judgment stated:
At issue here is whether or not an employer is responsible for the unauthorized
discriminatory acts of its employees in the course of their employment under the
Canadian Human Rights Act.
Finding in favour of Ms. Robichaud, the court determined that
employers are liable for harassment, whether they are aware of it or
not, and that only an employer can remedy undesirable effects and
only an employer can provide the most important remedy, a healthy
April 16, 2013
In this decision, Justice La Forest interpreted the legislation in a
manner that was both remedial and preventative, promoting an
approach that human rights “education begins in the workplace, in
the micro-democracy of the work environment, rather than in society
at large.”
Are there wider, more collective remedies that would cause employers and
harassers to pay for the rehabilitation of more victims and that would act toward
the prevention of future sexual harassment?
Clearly, they have made significant advances in providing legal
remedies for addressing sexual harassment, with the responsibilities
of employers to provide safe workplaces well defined.
Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, in her 1984 royal commission
report Equality in Employment, put it this way:
Despite our familiarity with the concept of workplace harassment,
and the legal remedies available to workers in federally regulated
workplaces, many barriers to reporting sexual harassment remain in
place. Backhouse and Cohen documented the reprisals women
feared and often suffered when they reported sexual harassment.
They include demotion, transfer, poor work assignments, denial of
job-related benefits and promotion, unsatisfactory job evaluations,
sabotage of their work, and dismissal without or with only poor
Systemic discrimination requires systemic remedies. Rather than approaching
discrimination from the perspective of the single perpetrator and the single victim,
the systemic approach acknowledges that by and large the systems and practices
we customarily and often unwittingly adopt may have an unjustifiably negative
effect on certain groups in society.
In our 2004 study, some women did not report sexual harassment
because they did not think it was worth it. Others did not report
because race and/or language issues hindered their ability to report.
Some women stated they did not report for both of these reasons.
Women who did report were often confronted with inadequate
procedures or even non-existent procedures, supervisors who do not
listen, and bureaucratic complications. Several women experienced
an escalation of the harassment, or retaliation when they reported.
Some women found that reporting did not make any difference.
Women who filed complaints in multiple forums often experienced a
legal runaround, being bounced from one forum to the next.
● (1145)
The problem of underreporting or not pursuing a complaint that is
initially ignored may be rooted in our approach to providing
remedies. As Constance Backhouse explains:
Our current legal system individualizes how we develop remedies for harassment.
We pay out only for women who give voice to the abuse, who launch formal
complaints and who purse investigation and adjudication right through to the final
Bonnie Robichaud's case illustrates how difficult the reporting
process can be. After reporting, she faced a $30,000 lawsuit for
slander, her employer drafted a petition against her, she was
suspended without pay, and she was required to submit to a lie
detector test and a psychiatric assessment. Most hurtful of all to her,
she endured a hostile work environment where she was shunned by
her co-workers.
Fortunately, Ms. Robichaud persisted in her complaint and,
through the Supreme Court decision, strengthened legal responsibilities for employers to provide safe and healthy workplaces.
Despite such a positive and promising outcome, workers continue to
face many of the same barriers to reporting sexual harassment.
Failing to take a systemic approach to addressing workplace
sexual harassment places an enormous burden upon the target.
Anyone not having the support and the resources to pursue a lengthy,
emotionally exhausting, and often financially draining reporting
process is silenced.
Constance Backhouse asks:
Employers comply with current legal provisions simply by
circulating a policy outlining the kinds of individual conduct that
are prohibited and the disciplinary measures that would entail should
a violation occur. A systemic approach would require the
transformation of a wide range of institutional practices and policies
in order to prevent sexual harassment.
Clearly, we have made some important advances in our ability to
speak out publicly about sexual harassment and in our provision of
individualized legal remedies to address it. Equally clearly, we still
have a long way to go before we reach equality in the workplace and
before those who experience sexual harassment feel safe to report
and confident that the situation will be appropriately addressed. The
question becomes, how do we close the gap between policy and
The archived HRSDC document identifies strategies for reducing
institutional vulnerability to sexual harassment that remain very
relevant today. First is ensuring that women in non-traditional jobs
are not isolated in all-male work groups, and that there is a critical
mass of women employed in areas once exclusively the domain of
men. Second is addressing the isolation of women in traditionally
female jobs, such as domestic work, and reforming legislative or
policy provisions that accentuate their isolation. Third is confronting
the connections between sexism, racism, and other types of
inequality. Fourth is identifying how both male and female jobs
are sexualized, and dismantling the stereotypes, sexual subordination, racism, and heterosexism of the phenomenon of sexualization.
Fifth is implementing employment equity effectively to provide
equal employment opportunities for women and other underrepresented and socially disadvantaged groups. Sixth is developing
more democratic workplaces that are not premised on abusive
supervisory power, but rather on more egalitarian, co-operative, and
team-based approaches to work.
I would like to conclude by revisiting Justice La Forest’s assertion
in Robichaud v. Treasury Board in 1987—
April 16, 2013
● (1150)
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Excuse me. You
have one minute left.
harassed, and another involving two female scientists who were
victims of gender harassment.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Thank you.
He said that a human rights “education begins in the workplace, in
the micro-democracy of the work environment, rather than in society
at large”.
It is not enough to give workers a definition of sexual harassment
and then tell them not to do it. We must develop a collective
responsibility model that empowers bystanders to step in and speak
up effectively and safely. Ervin Staub, professor of psychology
emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, has written extensively
about bystanders. He reminds us that:
Just as passive bystanders reinforce a sense that nothing is wrong in a situation,
the active bystander can, in fact, get people to focus on a problem and motivate
them to take action.
Indeed, people can exert positive influence on each other. We have
to prepare employers, supervisors, and co-workers if we want them
to be active bystanders who will draw awareness to potential
harassment, and who will take action when harassment occurs. To do
this we must challenge social norms, or the agreed-upon expectations and rules which govern our workplaces behaviour. The old,
“It's just a joke,” “She must have deserved it,” and “It's none of my
business” attitudes reinforce harassing behaviours.
Before we can develop effective training to empower bystanders
to intervene in situations of potential or actual sexual harassment and
before we can shift social norms to reflect an acceptance of
collective responsibility for ensuring everyone is treated respectfully,
we need to ask questions, collect data, and share findings on the
experiences of sexual harassment in Canadian workplaces. We have
to understand better why we have a gap between policy and reality,
and we have to gather up our collective thinking on how we can
bridge the gap.
Thank you.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Thank you for
your presentation. I will now call upon Jennifer Berdahl.
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl (Professor, University of Toronto, As an
Individual): Thank you for inviting me here today. I'm Jennifer
Berdahl. I've been a professor at the Rotman School of Management
since 2001. I have been studying sexual harassment for over 20
years. I have several research papers on the topic, I have developed a
theoretical framework for understanding it, and I have two review
chapters in major volumes on organizational behaviour and
industrial organizational psychology.
My training is in social, organizational, and industrial psychology
from the University of Illinois, where I received my Ph.D. I have
served as an expert witness on sexual harassment cases that focus on
my particular—
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Excuse me for a
moment, Ms. Berdahl, we have to check with the translation.
Speak more slowly so they can translate, please.
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: I have also served as an expert witness on
sexual harassment cases: one involving a man who was gender-
I began studying sexual harassment in the early 1990s when it was
still conceived largely as a problem of unwanted sexual behaviour
and predation of men upon women in the workplace. This was on the
heels of the Clarence Thomas Senate hearings and the Anita Hill
controversy when sexual harassment was largely conceived in this
way: being sexual in content, sexual in motive, and being something
that men do to women.
I will go over my research that has given me an understanding of
sexual harassment as largely a form of gender-based dominance and
derogation in the workplace, what motivates sexual harassment, and
how to prevent and address sexual harassment when it occurs.
My research began by studying sexual harassment against men in
the workplace. At the time, in the early nineties, people started
asking what about men? If sexual harassment is simply a method of
making inappropriate comments sexually within the workplace, or
propositioning people, then women can do this to men too,
especially as they gain power within the workplace.
A popular movie in 1994 called Disclosure starred Michael
Douglas and Demi Moore. It displayed sexual harassment against
men in the form of a female boss coming on to him sexually, and
there are also statistics coming out on sexual harassment against men
that really, in my view and my colleagues' view, have overinflated its
prevalence, because they simply gave men measures designed to
study sexual harassment against women, what women found
harassing, and asked them if they ever experienced it, such as lewd
comments. Of course, men hear lewd comments in the workplace,
but they don't necessarily find them harassing.
So we asked the question, do men experience harassment, and if
so what kind do they experience in the workplace? With a few
studies, we found that in general men do not experience what women
experience as harassing in an harassing manner. So lewd comments,
sexual attention, typically is not threatening to men—it is to women
—but we did identify a form of harassment against men that
previously had not been identified, and that was harassment against
men for not being man enough in the workplace. This primarily
came from other men, and it was experienced as the most threatening
form of harassment to men, harassment that derogated them based on
their status as men. So it involved masculinity teasing. One example
is a man who took a two-week paternity leave after the birth of his
second child and when he returned to work, he was teased so
relentlessly about it that he feared for his status in the workplace.
I give you this background because it draws attention to the
phenomenon of sexual harassment as being largely about a
negotiation of gender within the workplace and a form of genderbased harassment, that is harassing people based on their gender
performance, not necessarily their biological sex being male or
female, but how well they performed their masculinity within the
workplace, and potentially how well they performed their femininity
in the workplace. So sexual harassment does not have to be sexual in
content, does not have to come from someone of the other sex, to
constitute sex discrimination. It can, and usually does, involve
derogating someone based on their sex or their gender performance,
and can be perpetuated by same-sex as well as other-sex others.
From this research, I went on to study this phenomenon in
women. Is sexual harassment against women largely directed at
women who also do not engage in prototypical feminine behaviour
in the same way that it's directed at men? So again with three studies
and a paper I published in 2007 entitled The Sexual Harassment of
Uppity Women, I demonstrated that it's primarily women who engage
in masculine styles of behaviour, being assertive and being
outspoken, who get targeted for unwanted sexual attention, sexual
comments, and even sexual coercion within the workplace. I also
demonstrated that having a masculine personality did not make
women more sensitive to this kind of behaviour; that's not why they
were reporting it. They were disproportionately targeted for this kind
of behaviour.
● (1155)
In five organizations, I found that women in male-dominated ones
were the most likely to be sexually harassed. That had already been
demonstrated, but it was particularly the women with those
masculine styles of behaviour, the women who were outspoken
and assertive, who were disproportionately targeted for sexual
The conclusion from these studies was that it's women who do not
meet feminine ideals who are targeted for traditional forms of sexual
harassment. In the same way, men who do not meet masculine ideals
are targeted for male forms of sexual harassment.
It's not a matter of women in male-dominated occupations being
surrounded by men who are sexually attracted to them and therefore
giving them unwanted sexual attention—that might be part of the
problem—but it's largely women who are encroaching upon male
territory, either occupationally or in their behaviour, who get
April 16, 2013
targeted. Thus, sexual harassment serves to reinforce traditional
gender roles and behaviour in both men and women by punishing
those who veer outside the lines of gendered behaviour.
At the individual level, I theorize that sex-based harassment does
not have to involve a conscious attempt necessarily to reinforce these
roles and territories, but rather it is an attempt to protect or enhance
one's personal status through gender. This is made possible because
status is stratified by sex—being male is given more status than
being female—and by gender, with masculinity being accorded
higher status than femininity. Within gender there are privileged
masculinities and privileged femininities, which give people the
tools to put others down based upon these identities.
In the competitive world of work where people are vying for
social status, which of course affects their professional status, this
sex and gender stratification gives people the possibility to enhance
their own status by putting others down based upon these identities.
I define sex-based harassment as behaviour that derogates,
demeans, or humiliates an individual based on sex. Even behaviour
that on the surface does not appear to be sex-based, that may not be
sexual in content or nature, might constitute sexual harassment or
sex-based harassment in this way if it's motivated by the desire to put
someone down based upon that person's sex or their gender
Recent research of mine shows that general mistreatment—
ignoring somebody, putting down their work performance, which
doesn't have anything to do with sexual content—is disproportionately targeted at gender deviance within the workplace. Women
with masculine personalities are primarily targeted for mistreatment
in general, not just sexual harassment, and men with feminine
personalities, particularly in high-status masculine occupations, are
disproportionately targeted for mistreatment in general.
This has led me to conduct research on other marginalized
identities that make individuals deviate from gender ideals. For
example, sexual deviants and sexual minorities are disproportionately targeted for sexual harassment. People who deviate from
traditional family roles—for example, men who do a lot of
caregiving in the home and women who do not have children—
are disproportionately targeted for mistreatment in the workplace and
sexual harassment.
April 16, 2013
I've also looked at racial deviance. Racial minorities are
disproportionately targeted with sex-based harassment, and those
who fail to conform to racial stereotypes are also targeted for more
racial harassment in the same way that people who do not conform to
gender stereotypes are disproportionately targeted for gender
This kind of behaviour in the workplace is a form of social control
that keeps the status quo in place. Environments that trigger it are
environments in which status is highly stratified by sex and gender,
that is, male-dominated environments in which men outnumber
women, but also when men have more power than women in that
environment; and environments that reinforce distinctions between
the sexes and the association between being male and having status;
and also environments that motivate people to be in the “in group” or
masculine club and to keep others out of it. Competitive
environments are also much more prone to witnessing this type of
harassing behaviour, where promotions are highly desired and
difficult to obtain. People are going to use what they can to gain an
advantage and will put others down based on sex and gender in order
to do so.
● (1200)
Environments that trigger it also include leadership that does not
explicitly call out and combat the problem, that is, leaders who are
silent on the topic—neutrality tends to reinforce and side with the
status quo—or ignore cases, or even reward and promote harassers
and, obviously, leaders who engage in this behaviour themselves.
So what do we do? Prevention starts with leadership. Leadership
sets the tone. Leaders have to acknowledge the inequality between
groups within the workplace. Typically, when we're talking about
sexual harassment, we're talking about men and women and the
belief that this inequality is wrong. If the leader does not have
“religion”, if people do not think the leader truly believes this in his
or her heart, it's not going to have much of an effect.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Excuse me. I'll
have to ask you to wrap up, please.
● (1205)
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: So explicitly stating the belief that men
and women are equal and should also have equal chances at
promotion and holding people accountable.... If not, it has been
shown to be very effective to have 360° evaluation. Having
subordinates evaluate leaders, not just superiors evaluating employees, is critical.
Also important is trying to foster more cooperative work
environments that do not pit employees against each other, and
especially de-emphasizing sex and gender differences through
desegregation both horizontally and vertically within organizations,
and being careful not to symbolically reinforce gender inequality
with a variety of methods. I can go into those if you're interested.
I have some other comments on problem solving, but perhaps we
can get to that in the question and answer period.
Thank you.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): I will now call on
Sandy Welsh for ten minutes.
Dr. Sandy Welsh (Professor of Sociology, Vice-Dean, Graduate
Education and Program Reviews, Faculty of Arts and Science,
University of Toronto, As an Individual): Thank you for inviting
me to speak today.
As a bit of background, my name is Sandy Welsh, and I'm a
professor of sociology and I'm the vice-dean, graduate education and
program reviews, in the faculty of arts and science at the University
of Toronto. For over 20 years my academic research has focused on
the study of sexual and workplace harassment. This work ranges
from the analysis of the 1993 Statistics Canada “Violence Against
Women Survey”, analysis of confidential sexual harassment
complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and the
analysis of an interview- and focus-group-based study of Ontario
women's experiences with workplace harassment and violence,
especially in terms of their ability to seek some kind of legal recourse
and remedy for their complaints.
I've also provided oral or written evidence at numerous Ontario
and Canadian human rights commission tribunals, as well as in the
1997 coroner's inquest into the deaths of Theresa Vince and Russell
Davis, where Ms. Vince was sexually harassed and then murdered by
her boss, Mr. Davis.
With my time today I want to address four issues I believe are
important to keep in mind when considering the issue of sexual
workplace harassment in Canada. These issues are, first, what is the
prevalence of harassment in Canada; what is sexual harassment and
where is it likely to occur; third, why women do not report
harassment; and finally, how may we best prevent harassment.
I think you'll start to hear some themes in my comments that
you've heard from my colleagues here today.
My opinions are based on my own research, interviews with
women experiencing harassment, my experiences as an expert in
various legal cases, and my understanding of the larger research in
the area.
First, what do we know about the prevalence of sexual harassment
in Canada? Based on my own analysis of the 1993 violence against
women survey, and another Canadian national survey that was done
at the time, these studies estimate that for the lifetime sexual
harassment prevalence rate, or the chances that a woman would
experience harassment over her lifetime—and they were focused just
on women—the range was within 23% to 51%. Why this range?
Some of that has to do with survey construction and how questions
were asked, but I think it gives you a sense of the fact that a quarter
to a half of women will experience harassment in their lifetime.
Twenty years later, these are still the only national statistics we have.
In my opinion, it's time for another survey for us to understand
what's happening at the national level, and to include men in this
Second, what is sexual harassment and where is it most likely to
occur? I'm not going to go through a lengthy list of behaviours.
Rather, I want to mention what I believe is at the core of almost all
harassment behaviours. Sexual and workplace harassment is first and
foremost an organizational issue, not an interpersonal problem.
Whether the behaviours are sexualized, gender based, or generalized
forms of abuse, at their core these behaviours are meant to be hostile
and demeaning. As my colleague Dr. Berdahl just spoke to, and as
others' work suggests, these behaviours often signal an individual or
group is not welcome or is a competitive threat. In the case of sexual
harassment, this is why we see women in male-dominated
organizations or occupations more likely to be targets of sexual
Sexual harassment is also more likely to occur in certain contexts
such as job insecurity. This includes workers in temporary positions,
workers on probation or in some kind of trial period for a position,
and also young workers who are new to the workplace. Sexual
harassment is more likely where there are gender, racialized, or other
workplace power differences. Here it is important to note that other
types of harassment may co-occur with sexual harassment. For
example, in my analysis of the sexual harassment complaints to the
Canadian Human Rights Commission, approximately 10% of the
complaints also involved physical abuse such as being spit upon, hit,
or kicked.
Third, I'm often asked, “Why didn't she just report it?”, when
testifying in sexual harassment tribunals.
● (1210)
Study after study documents that only a small number of women
experiencing harassment file formal complaints. Why? Women do
not report for fear of losing their job, fear of retaliation, fear of not
being believed, a lack of family support for going forward with a
complaint, and lack of information about the options for reporting.
In our study of women in Ontario, women's willingness to report
was also affected by their citizenship or newcomer status. As a recent
immigrant to Canada in our study said, she did not report because
she did not think her experience was serious enough to be considered
a complaint in the Canadian legal context.
Most women do not report until one of two things happens. First,
the harassment escalates and becomes so severe they feel they can no
longer handle it on their own, or second, they lose their job or some
other severe outcome happens.
Just because someone does not make a formal report, it is
important to remember this person may have signalled in numerous
ways that there is a problem. Again the research literature is clear:
women cope with harassment by avoiding the harasser, by taking
days off, or using other strategies to get through the day.
During the inquest into the death of Theresa Vince, I testified to
the multiple ways Ms. Vince signalled there was a harassment
problem. This long-time employee in her late 50s decided to take
early retirement to get away from her boss who was harassing her.
She moved her desk to another part of the office and would have her
colleagues intervene on her behalf when her boss phoned her line.
And while reporting is an important part of reducing harassment,
it must be emphasized there is a cost to reporting for women in terms
April 16, 2013
of time, money, and health. As my own work reports and as reported
by others, we also know reporting is not straightforward.
Women in our Ontario study discussed what we call the legal
runaround. Depending on the workplace, whether there's a union,
and whether the workplace is federally or provincially regulated,
women may be told to file a grievance through the union, through a
workplace complaint procedure, or go to the Human Rights
Commission, and they find themselves bouncing around from place
to place trying to find the best place to start. Clearly more attention
needs to be paid to women's and men's access to legal recourse when
they would like to have it.
And finally, how may we best prevent harassment and violence?
Three options are discussed in the research I'll mention here. Some
of these Barb and Jennifer have touched on. I think other witnesses
at this committee have also discussed this.
First is the need for supportive and cooperative workplace cultures
where organizational leadership visibly supports anti-harassment
cultures and policies, where gender, racialized, and other inequities
across workgroups are reduced, and where interpersonal competition
and job insecurity are reduced or at least recognized by management.
These may be helpful in reducing harassment.
Second, proactive policies and procedures encourage reporting,
and, hence, may help reduce harassment. It's important to note that
reporting and filing of complaints are not necessarily a sign of a
problematic workplace. I often hear managers say one complaint is
too many. At the same time one complaint means someone believes
she can complain and that her complaint will be taken seriously. So
complaints are not the best measures of whether or not a workplace
has a harassment problem. Rather complaints may mean an
organization has a culture and policies and procedures that are
doing what we want them to do, enabling workers to come forward
when something problematic happens.
Third, training that encourages bystander interventions may make
a difference. Programs where workers are trained not to ignore the
harassment and violence, including developing strategies to push
back early, may help. In practice these range from interventions on
the spot such as calling out inappropriate practices or behaviours of
colleagues to confidential complaint hotlines, especially for more
serious offences or for larger workplaces.
April 16, 2013
● (1215)
In conclusion, what is central to our ability to reduce harassment
at work? Policies and procedures are only a first step. We need to
ensure that employers and managers understand that they have a role
and a responsibility, that we work to ensure that our Canadian
workplaces develop supportive organizational cultures where
organizational leaders visibly signal that harassment is a serious
issue, and that we encourage the role of bystander or co-worker
intervention where appropriate. We also need to ensure that those
who choose to complain can easily find where they should go, and
that they are supported and have access to remedies that help them
move their lives forward.
Thank you.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Thank you for
your presentation.
I will now begin the first round of questioning.
I'll go first to Mrs. Truppe.
Mrs. Susan Truppe (London North Centre, CPC): Thank you,
Madam Chair.
I'd like to thank you all for coming today. Your presentations were
I would like to point out that Barbara is from London, Ontario.
Barbara, you do a great job researching violence against women and
children. Thank you for that.
Barbara, this one is for you. On February 25 of this year, Stats
Canada released a report, “Measuring violence against women:
Statistical trends”. It indicated that following an incident of violence,
Canadian women are statistically more likely than men to disclose
their victimization to family and friends—80% versus 56%. I think
one of you mentioned that as well, that women report it more than
In your 2004 “Workplace Harassment and Violence Report”, you
noted that women cope with harassment, and sexual harassment in
particular, through externally focused behavioural strategies such as
avoidance or seeking support, and also internally focused psychological strategies such as denial, detachment, and self-blame.
Would you say that there is a need for access to social and
personal support networks alongside the reporting and mediation of
an incident of sexual harassment in the workplace? The reason I'm
asking is that the federal service employees have access to an
employee assistance program, which provides e-counselling and
referrals to local counsellors to assist public service employees in
dealing with personal or workplace-related issues. This has only
been raised once since we've been listening to it, so I'm just curious
to hear your opinion on it.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: First, thank you very much for the
question—it's a really important question.
In fact, the support system is critical, vital, to anybody who's even
thinking about reporting harassment. I actually wouldn't recommend
that anybody without supports try to start a complaint procedure. I
think it can be draining. You can expect resistance, often. The
support piece needs to be in place. I think EAP is an obvious source
of potential support, but then we need to ensure that EAP providers
are appropriately prepared to deal with men or women who
experience workplace sexual harassment or gendered harassment.
In fact, just through some personal experiences of trying to support
women, I know that this is not always the case. We can't just assume
that because there's an EAP in place they're going to understand all
the dynamics of workplace harassment. That's what I think about
Mrs. Susan Truppe: Thank you.
You also mentioned that most of the women who wished they
reported wished they'd had more support. What type of support are
you referencing? What are some support systems for them?
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: I meant personal supports, definitely,
and that's maybe something we don't have a lot of control over—
family, friends. We have very little in the way of organized support
in the community for people who are experiencing workplace sexual
In Ontario we have a whole network of sexual assault centres.
Through our research we found that most women didn't turn to
sexual assault centres for support. They didn't see themselves as
fitting the mandate. Sometimes sexual assault centres weren't
prepared to provide the support that was needed there, and there
was simply no other place to go.
You can go to a generic counselling agency, and they may or may
not have any particular understanding of the dynamics of workplace
harassment, workplace sexual harassment, or gendered harassment.
This is something we have brought up in the past. We have a real
need for a network of community supports that have people in place
who really understand harassment and are able to offer appropriate
support, appropriate advice sometimes, for moving forward with a
● (1220)
Mrs. Susan Truppe: Thank you.
What would you say are the benefits of offering access to
supports, such as counselling services, to the individuals engaged in
reporting? How can that help them?
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: I think one of the benefits is that
they'll be more likely to be able to stay in their work. We know from
our study, and I know from a lot of anecdotal evidence as well, that
most women who experience sexual harassment and then go on to
report it end up without a job. I think there are a lot of reasons for
that. If they're experiencing reprisals, there's a toll that it takes on
their performance. And there's just the time it takes to pursue
sometimes multiple avenues of complaint. So it's emotionally
exhausting. It can be financially draining. Even though we're
supposed to have forums that don't require legal representation,
women tend to get better outcomes if they have legal representation.
If we are able to offer them support throughout this, I think it
helps them to stay focused on what they need to do next. It prevents
them from going in a whole lot of different directions that aren't
going to be helpful to them. It just makes them feel less alone. It
makes them feel they're not crazy. It makes them feel like they don't
deserve this. Those are all really critical things to having a woman
being able to carry on and continue in her job and continue to
perform well while she's in the challenging situation of having to
carry forth with a complaint.
Mrs. Susan Truppe: Thank you.
Sandy, you mentioned in your report the three options that you
were discussing. You noted supportive and cooperative workplace
cultures, and how proactive policies and procedures encourage
reporting and might help reduce harassment. How important is it to
have the policies and procedures in place, and what would be one of
the best policies and procedures that you've seen?
Dr. Sandy Welsh: It's very important to have the policies and
procedures in place, and in many ways that's the first step. I think in
this day and age most companies, especially our large companies,
have good policies and procedures in place. Do they work all the
time? No, but there's the fact that companies in some ways are able
to handle the complaints within their workplaces, and we do have
companies with large policies.
What are some of the best policies that I've seen? I think we have
a number of our large Canadian companies that have very good
policies. I'm hesitant to say this is a really good policy because I
don't know if there's exactly the perfect policy.
What I will say is that both the Ontario Human Rights
Commission and Canadian Human Rights Commission have good
guidelines and recommendations for what should go into policies. I
have not recently looked at the Canadian Human Rights Commission website but I know that over the years, most importantly,
they've had guidelines for small and medium-sized businesses. In
some ways I'm less concerned about our large corporations because I
think many of those have had to deal with this and already have very
strong, detailed, and lengthy policies in place.
But where there are concerns are within our smaller businesses
and medium businesses where they don't have HR departments,
where they can't hire lawyers. Those are some of the places where
we also need to focus our attention on the kinds of policies that are
appropriate for those. It's not necessarily a case of one-size-fits-all
with policies. But I think—
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Thank you.
Ms. Ashton.
Ms. Niki Ashton (Churchill, NDP): Thank you very much to all
three of our presenters. Your testimony was very interesting, and
while you touched on themes that have come out through this study,
you've used an academic and perhaps a broader lens to really
enhance some of the things that we've learned in this committee. We
truly appreciate that.
I want to pay particular attention to the repeated reference to
systemic discrimination requiring systemic responses and also the
work, Professor Berdahl, that you've been involved with around
gender-based discrimination, which actually hasn't been a theme that
April 16, 2013
we've dealt with. I don't think we've heard about it as such
throughout our study. So you've given us a lot to work with here.
As the status of women committee, our interest is in giving
recommendations to Status of Women Canada, to the minister, and to
the government with regard to sexual harassment in the federal
With that starting point of Status of Women Canada, I would like
to put my question to all three of you. Perhaps we can do it in the
order in which you spoke, so beginning with Professor MacQuarrie,
can you tell us what you believe the role of Status of Women Canada
could be in providing leadership in this area?
● (1225)
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Thank you. Simply to clarify, I'm
actually the community director of a research centre, but not a
I think our very first need is to revisit the data that we have. We
need a new survey. We need to collect both quantitative and
qualitative data. We need to hear the stories and we need to
understand the numbers. We haven't done that in a very long time.
We don't have any large-scale surveys that have included men.
What I see, and I think what my colleagues are saying as well, is
that what we have on the books with legislation is good. We should
not be having the situations we're having, given the legislation that's
there and the intent behind the legislation. But we know that we do.
So we need to understand what's happening there.
I think that before we go into making detailed recommendations
about specific responses, we really need to get that overview or
picture of what's happening, and the best way to do that is through a
large-scale research project.
Ms. Niki Ashton: Thank you.
Professor Berdahl.
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: I would echo that we're long overdue some
national statistics on this.
In addition, Status of Women Canada can offer guidelines and
definitions of the problem and the nature of it, by defining sexual
harassment broadly in the way that I tried to communicate to the
committee, pointing out that the very overt sexual forms that we can
all recognize are only the tip of the iceberg and that this is a systemic
problem that affects both women and men in the workplace.
Where you see men being teased about their masculinity, you can
be sure it's going to be a hostile place for women. Men are going to
have to start reporting and stepping up to this as well, if the problem
is going to be solved.
Outlining best practices and policies, providing that kind of
information for companies if it's not already done, would be most
helpful, such as on the importance of bystander intervention. We
know a lot about how effective that is against bullying in schools.
Why not do that in organizations? We need bystanders not simply
being given the choice of intervening, but actually being told that it
is their responsibility as citizens to intervene and stand up.
April 16, 2013
We need to provide victims multiple channels of reporting,
starting with informal ombudspeople, instead of their having to go
directly to a formal complaint, which we know is extremely rare and
that people hesitate to do for good reason.
I thought Sandy's comment about filing complaints and telling
organizations was not a bad sign but a good sign. That would be
another example of best practices and policies, as well as
emphasizing the importance and the responsibility of leadership in
this problem.
I'm wondering about some kind of external organizational support
system, because naturally if there's a sexual harassment problem
within the organization, the leadership typically is somehow
condoning it, which is why victims are not reporting it and are
hesitant to say anything. So having some kind of organizational
support that can give victims legal information and options and best
practices for how to handle the situation, in addition to social
support, connecting victims from other organizations, is really
important, so that they know they are not along and that other people
experience this too. People are divided within their own organization, so people typically don't go to each other within them when
there's a problem. So connecting people in that kind of a social
support network would be really important.
● (1230)
Ms. Niki Ashton: Thank you.
Professor Welsh.
Dr. Sandy Welsh: Thank you.
I will echo many of the comments that you've just heard. In terms
of data, there was a time when Status of Women Canada was more
involved in data, research, and reports. At one point I participated in
writing a chapter for a report for Status of Women Canada on the
Canadian Human Rights Commission.
I would encourage involvement in some of those issues where
they are relevant, particularly in terms of surveys or qualitative data
collection. The federal government, I know, does collect some of
their own data, but it's important to either open up that data to
researchers such as Jennifer and me in universities or to allow us to
participate in collecting national data so we can have a baseline to
understand where things are, if are we improving, and if new things
are popping up.
Second, I would agree with the comments around Status of
Women Canada's role in terms of defining the question and opening
up the question, opening up the concept of what we consider
harassment. It's not just about women; it is about men. There's a
variety of different types of behaviours, as Jennifer has spoken to.
Also we need to deal head-on with the issue of what is referred to
intersectionality: how citizenship status, racialized status, religion,
and family status all come and intersect and create different forms of
gender-based harassment that people are experiencing and how these
connect, not just in the experience.
I think this would be my third point, in terms of the reporting of
harassment. I know recently the Canadian Human Rights Commission has taken some steps to provide some guidelines on how to deal
with intersectionality around gender-based issues. But it's important
that some of the women we talked to in our Ontario study said,
“Well, I'm a black woman so it's not really sexual harassment for me,
but it's not really racial harassment. Maybe I shouldn't report it.” But
I think it's for us to understand as researchers, as employers—
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Thank you.
Moving on to Ms. James.
Ms. Roxanne James (Scarborough Centre, CPC): Thank you,
Madam Chair.
Thank you to all of our guests for being here through conference.
My first question is directed to Ms. MacQuarrie.
In your opening remarks you mentioned that one of the keys to
dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace is prevention of
future sexual harassment. I wonder whether you could speak directly
to the benefits of early intervention when dealing with sexual
harassment in the workplace, specifically how it ties into the
leadership of any particular company. I know that other witnesses
here today as well as in past meetings have spoken directly to the
significance of good leadership, management, and supervisors. If
you could speak to the benefit of early intervention, I would
appreciate it.
Thank you.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Thanks for the question.
Early intervention is really key; it's really critical. I think it's
unrealistic to expect that we'll never have inappropriate behaviours
in a workplace. What we have to do is have that first line of defence,
which is early intervention.
Early intervention sends a signal that this is not a place where we
can act like that. It sends a signal that this is a place where we value
everyone. It has to come first from leadership, but it has to move
beyond leadership. It has to involve everybody in the workplace.
Everybody in the workplace has to have that same sense that our
workplace culture says, that our workplace culture absolutely
requires, that everyone here is respected, that everyone feels safe,
that everyone can contribute and reach their full potential as a worker
in this environment. Early intervention sends all of those messages.
It also means that it's going to minimize the kind of disciplinary
issues you're going to have. If you intervene early before things
become serious, it's much easier to deal with the perpetrator. You
don't have to implement really serious consequences. You can
explain that this is inappropriate. You can give a warning. You can
make it clear that the behaviour shouldn't be repeated. If you have
the culture that supports all of that, you're not likely to see a repeat of
the behaviour.
● (1235)
Ms. Roxanne James: We had before us another witness from the
Canada School of Public Service, where they actually do mandatory
training for supervisors and those in management positions. I wonder
whether you have any opinion on what type of mandatory training
you think works best. You hear things about doing it online, doing it
person, that it has to be on an annual basis. I wonder whether you
have any suggestions as to what you believe works best with regards
to training supervisors and management leaders—I don't want to say
upper management—in the workplace.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Was that question to me as well?
Ms. Roxanne James: Yes, it was. Thank you.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: Thank you.
I really believe that you have to have some part of the training face
to face. You have to start with the face-to-face training. That's
definitely the most effective. You can have follow-up modules that
are online, but if you don't get that face-to-face interaction, I don't
think you can explore these relational issues.
Another training tool that works very well is the use of scenarios,
whether they're videotaped scenarios or the use of theatre to mount
real situations. Case studies are another effective tool. But having at
least the introduction to the training be in person is critically
important. You can't deal with relational issues in an electronic,
online context effectively.
Ms. Roxanne James: Thank you.
I'm glad you actually mentioned scenarios. I still recall the
commercials that ran across our TVs with regard to elder abuse, and
being able to spot what is considered to be abuse of our senior
citizens and so forth. Sometimes you'd be watching those
commercials and you'd think, yes, that is abuse, but it doesn't really
dawn on you until you actually see it and it's described to you. So I
thank you for mentioning scenarios and giving actual examples of
what would be deemed inappropriate and what is okay. So I thank
you for that.
I'm going to ask Professor Welsh the next question.
In your remarks you talked about three different ways of
preventing harassment, and you mentioned about easy access, where
to go, a key point person, and so forth. We've actually heard from
many witnesses prior to this talking about harassment advisers or goto or point people in an organization, where you can go to that one
individual. It's easy to know where to go, easy to access, and so on.
Do you think it's a good idea to have something like that in place?
Dr. Sandy Welsh: I think it is, and this is where universities in
Canada are good examples. The University of Toronto, like other
universities, has a sexual harassment officer who reports directly to
the president. She does not report to a manager somewhere in the
middle level of the managerial food chain, so to speak. It means that
we have someone who is clearly identified for faculty, staff, students,
who you go to. She's not going to feel somehow beholden to a
manager who's sitting ahead of her. Having someone who maybe
sits, in terms of their harassment responsibilities, a bit outside the
normal chain of command is useful.
April 16, 2013
Jennifer spoke to multiple avenues of complaint. That's very
important because who does the manager complain to when their
manager is harassing them?
So I think it's about having point people who are appropriate to the
organization, and having someone do that, yes.
Ms. Roxanne James: Thank you.
This question is for Professor Welsh as well. When you speak
about multiple or different avenues, do you think it's important to be
able to speak directly to a person, or perhaps be able to log a
complaint or file something electronically, or perhaps pick up the
telephone and be able to report it that way? Do you believe that there
should be different avenues of how to report a particular problem or
Dr. Sandy Welsh: There need to be different avenues, because
sometimes someone is not ready. If you put it in an e-mail, you do it
electronically, and there's a record. What we heard in our study and
what I hear in a lot of complaints I'm involved with is that women
just want the harassment to stop. Sometimes what they would rather
do is to talk to someone, get some advice on some strategies they can
use, know that they have support, and then they can, either with their
manager involved or on their own, try to move this forward,
especially if it's low-level types of harassment.
But I think it's important that there be a way that someone can talk
to someone, to say, “I think I have a problem. Could you help me
define it?” or “I think I have a problem. Do you think I need to file a
formal complaint?”, as well as someone who wants to do it
● (1240)
Ms. Roxanne James: Thank you very much.
I figure that my time has mostly gone. Thank you.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Thank you.
Now we'll move on to Ms. Sgro.
Hon. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.): Thank you very much,
Madam Chair.
Good morning to all of our witnesses. Thank you so very much
for the work you've done on this issue. Clearly, it's something that
you're very well versed in and very much aware of.
Before I go on with my questions, Madam Chair, I just wanted to
bring to the attention of our committee members the fact that if you
check your inbox, you'll see that I have sent out an e-mail this
morning. I'm holding a round table in Ottawa with some of the
witnesses who weren't allowed to come to the committee and who
have had first-hand experience in the RCMP on this issue of
harassment. I'm having that on April 22, and certainly everybody in
the committee is welcome to come. I plan to submit the testimony
from that hearing to the clerk following the event.
My apologies to our witnesses. I had forgotten to mention that
earlier. I wanted to make sure that everyone knew about it.
April 16, 2013
The issues of the RCMP, the rationale for starting this particular
study, and many of the things that you have said today, all three of
you, are some of the answers that the RCMP should have been
responding to much earlier. They would not have found themselves
in the situation that they are today with the kind of damage that has
been done to their reputation, but most importantly, to the many
women who have been subjected to this.
In particular, you mentioned the issue about having an outside
organization to go to, with people who are experienced in regard to
that kind of harassment. In a hierarchy like you have in the RCMP,
all they had was to go to the next manager or to human rights or
whatever. As something for the federal government to have, how
would you see this outside organization, other than as just one of our
normal community organizations that they could go to, an
organization that the government would have confidence in to try
to deal with those problems? Whoever would like to respond to that,
please go ahead.
Ms. Barbara MacQuarrie: I can start. We explored a model here
in London, which would have been at a municipal level, not a federal
level, but I think the model could work. We were asking if a number
of workplaces could come together, a number of federal workplaces,
to actually provide funding for an office and staff. These people
would be well versed in labour law and human rights law and would
understand the dynamics of sexual harassment. They would be
independent, but funded perhaps by the group of workplaces that
would need to use them.
There would have to be a reporting structure, something that's
maybe similar to what Sandy was talking about in the university, so
there's not a reporting to middle managers, but rather reporting
directly. That could be to the Prime Minister. This is a very serious
issue, and if we want to show how seriously we're taking it, we need
to set up those kinds of structures.
That's an idea I have, and I think that if you were to set up
something like that, you could certainly look to experts in the field
for advice, for input, and for direction. I know that many people
would be happy to sit down and think about how to structure
something like that in a way that would really make the most sense.
Hon. Judy Sgro: Professor Welsh?
Dr. Sandy Welsh: I would agree with Barb in terms of having a
structure. One way to do it would be to work with people who have
the legal expertise and the social support expertise, such as social
workers, as well as others who have experience in going through
these kinds of complaint procedures. That structure could somehow
sit outside the RCMP or the federal government and work
In some ways, it's almost like an ombudsperson kind of position,
but it might be an ombudsperson who also has access to those kinds
of resources, both legally and on the social support side. Given the
complexity of identifying and naming the issue of harassment—it
can be presented in so many ways—that might be one way to do
that: to either piggyback onto an existing ombudsperson kind of
position or to develop one that is more focused on harassment,
respect in the workplace, and related issues.
● (1245)
Hon. Judy Sgro: Professor Berdahl?
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: I would echo what has already been said,
but I would add that having it funded by the companies using it
might be problematic. It would nice and ideal if there could be some
government funding for this, so that there is not any conflict of
interest involved in the advice being given. It would also serve as a
resource not just for victims, but also for leaders and managers who
might be struggling with this issue in their organizations and may not
know how best to address or handle it. It would be a sort of safe
haven for both sides of the conflict to go to for good advice.
Hon. Judy Sgro: Professor Berdahl, your description of the
individuals who tend to be the victims of harassment, whether male
or female, describes very well, I think, members of the RCMP in
particular. You talked about individuals who are outspoken and
assertive. That's very much, I would suggest, what we've seen among
women who are showing leadership in those areas, by joining the
RCMP and advancing their own careers and being harassed by many
of their fellow managers and so on. Yours was a perfect description
of what we have heard in the case of the RCMP.
You mentioned the lack of leadership as well and said that it's a
case of setting the tone to change the culture.
That's very difficult for an organization to do. Do you have
anything else to recommend, over and above the comments you have
made, that would deal with this kind of institution, which is maledominated and highly respected by all of us, and which is struggling
to make the changes? Have you had a chance to review any of the
information they have put forward as to the kind of changes they
plan to make within the organization?
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Please keep your
answer short, because we just have a few seconds.
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: I'm aware that they're trying to address it.
They have now made it such that people have to report relationships,
etc., and sexual interactions within the organization. But I am not
familiar with everything they have tried to do.
There are some very good examples of leaders—military leaders,
even the dean of the Harvard Business School, which has historically
faced some of the same issues—coming out and explicitly
addressing the problem and making it top on their agenda. And
the change is almost immediate. Of course, you still have some bad
apples, but the barrel is not as rotten, and they're not going to thrive.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Thank you.
We'll now move to our second round of questioning, beginning
with Ms. Ambler, for five minutes.
Mrs. Stella Ambler (Mississauga South, CPC): Thank you,
Madam Chair, and thank you to our guests today for three very
interesting presentations.
Professor Welsh, I'd like to continue where my colleague Ms.
James left off, with regard to reporting. We understand that in order
to properly address an issue it's necessary to have the participation of
both parties, and we respect the right of the respondent also to be
involved in the process.
April 16, 2013
Is there an effective way to balance a desire for confidential
reporting and on the other side to directly address the issue
effectively? For example, does the severity of the incident affect
whether a confidential report would be effective? In short, what are
the benefits and drawbacks of providing a confidential reporting
Dr. Sandy Welsh: I think the issue of confidentiality sometimes
can work in early stages, but the reality is that if someone is going
forward with a formal complaint against someone and entering either
an official quasi-legal process, such as a grievance procedure, or a
legal process, then there has to be respect for the respondent wherein
the respondent is aware there's a complaint and what the complaint is
about, so that the respondent is able to speak to it.
Mrs. Stella Ambler: When you ended your presentation, you
wanted to talk about problem solving. I wanted to give you an
opportunity to finish what you were going to say about that.
Where confidentiality is an issue—and this is part of what
happened in the situation with the death of Theresa Vince.... She
initially wanted to be confidential with her managers and say: “I
have a problem. My boss is engaging in inappropriate behaviour, and
I would like to get some advice. But I also want you to take seriously
that it's a complaint.” It's a case of allowing employees to be able to
explore, to ask questions, and to have some of this early informationgathering on the part of a complainant be confidential. But I have
seen, in the case of our sexual harassment officer here at U of T, and
I have talked with others in other places, that there reaches a point at
which you have to say to a complainant: “If you're going to take this
further, it will not be confidential, because we have a right and a
responsibility to allow the respondent to know this information.”
● (1250)
Mrs. Stella Ambler: In other words, at the early stages, it can be
very helpful because it can make the difference between someone
making a complaint and not making a complaint.
Dr. Sandy Welsh: It can make a difference in this early
intervention, in terms of someone saying, “What are some things
that we can do before I file a formal complaint?” It may mean
somebody going and talking to the boss and saying that they've got
an issue with this person, that they're doing all these inappropriate
things and that maybe they should say something in your workplace
that they're not going to condone these behaviours before it escalates
to a point where someone feels they have no choice but to file a
formal complaint.
Mrs. Stella Ambler: As for a potential drawback, one of those
could be that perhaps a confidential complaint simply isn't taken
seriously enough. Would there be any others?
Dr. Sandy Welsh: That's the risk and that's one of the black boxes
of complaint procedures. You need the people receiving the
complaint take it seriously, to listen to the person, and to not
immediately dismiss it. If it's confidential, it doesn't necessarily
mean that there's no record taken. If it's confidential, it doesn't
necessarily mean that the person who is charged with taking these
complaints doesn't write down on a particular day that something
was said about this person.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Madame Day, for
our last question of the day.
What may happen is that after one, two, three, or five years, all of
a sudden, the person taking the complaint realizes they're receiving a
lot of comments about this one person. It puts them in a position
where they may be more able to recommend either to their boss or to
the complainants coming forward that maybe they should start
thinking about formal complaints.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): You have 15
seconds left.
Dr. Sandy Welsh: I have to go back to where I was.
In terms of problem solving for complainants, I think my point
was about ensuring that they have the supports in place and are able
to get the things they need to move forward with their lives. I may be
forgetting what you were referring to, so I apologize.
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles,
NDP): Good afternoon.
I want to thank the professors and all these amazing women for
taking part in our study today.
My first question is for Ms. Welsh.
You started to answer Ms. Ashton's question about how Status of
Women Canada could play a role in all this. Could you please
elaborate on that?
Dr. Sandy Welsh: Status of Women has a leadership role in
Canada, not just for the federal workplace but for all workplaces.
What Status of Women Canada is able to do in terms of setting a
research agenda, whether it is their own agenda or contracting out to
researchers like me and Professor Berdahl, is to drive the kinds of
questions that we're asking and the kinds of information that we
think we need to get in dealing with workplace harassment and
I also think the guidelines that you put out and put in place for
what employers need to think about in terms of the leadership
needed, the training that may be needed, and information on the role
of bystander intervention and such, is essential for those of us who
work in the field and the employers that are looking for guidance,
not just from the Human Rights Commission or from lawyers but
also from a more holistic perspective.
Status of Women Canada could start to contribute to and really
enhance and broaden the agenda in terms of what we expect our
employers to do. The benefits of the recommendations that you're
going to put in place for the federal government, for the RCMP in
particular, will be very helpful for municipal fire departments and
police departments, as well as companies in general, because these
have the potential to come from a broader perspective than some of
the materials we see coming out from a purely research and purely
HR perspectives.
April 16, 2013
● (1255)
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day: Ms. Berdahl, in a 2008 article, you
examined the study of sexual harassment in the workplace over
recent decades. You indicated that sexual harassment was no longer
seen as just a women's issue. Could you tell us what the ratio of
women versus men is? Is it 10 to 1? Who is most subject to
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: That's a good question.
We do not have enough systematic evidence on that. We can look
at complaints, and men's complaints amount to perhaps one-third of
complaints that women make—at least at the federal level. For
example, in the U.S. in systematic surveys we find that about half of
men report experiencing these kinds of behaviours, but only a
fraction of those are found to be harassing or threatening. So I would
put theirs on the order of 10%, if that of women being harassed is
around 50%. So it's a fraction, but it is a significant fraction and
proportion of men.
One thing I'd like to point out is the training of people. I teach
MBA students—they're mostly men—and when I talk about the
harassment of men, they get it, they understand it. Everybody has
experienced these gender-based put-downs as men, and that helps
train them to see it much more clearly from the woman's perspective.
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day: We heard from representatives of the
Department of National Defence and police forces with a majority of
male members. Do you think the situation is different or that the
problems are more blatant in organizations like the RCMP and the
Canadian Forces? They told us that they received only one to three
complaints about sexual harassment.
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: Are you asking me?
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day: Yes.
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: Did you say one to three complaints of
sexual harassment against women or men? Could you rephrase the
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day: No, the witnesses said they didn't receive
very many sexual harassment complaints at all, only very rarely,
even though the environments in question were male-dominated.
They claimed that there were around one, two or three complaints,
not really any more than that. And I find that extremely hard to
believe given that those workplaces are clearly male-dominated.
Dr. Jennifer Berdahl: We know that the number of complaints is
very, very small compared to the number of incidents typically, and
often the fewer the complaints doesn't necessarily mean the lesser the
harassment going on, as Professor Welsh pointed out. There might
be more intimidation and fear of complaining going on.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Tilly O'Neill Gordon): Thank you.
I want to thank all of the presenters we had here today for a great
job. Well done, and now I'll now close the meeting.
The meeting is adjourned.
Published under the authority of the Speaker of
the House of Commons
Publié en conformité de l’autorité
du Président de la Chambre des communes
Reproduction of the proceedings of the House of Commons
and its Committees, in whole or in part and in any medium, is
hereby permitted provided that the reproduction is accurate
and is not presented as official. This permission does not
extend to reproduction, distribution or use for commercial
purpose of financial gain. Reproduction or use outside this
permission or without authorization may be treated as
copyright infringement in accordance with the Copyright Act.
Authorization may be obtained on written application to the
Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Il est permis de reproduire les délibérations de la Chambre et
de ses comités, en tout ou en partie, sur n’importe quel
support, pourvu que la reproduction soit exacte et qu’elle ne
soit pas présentée comme version officielle. Il n’est toutefois
pas permis de reproduire, de distribuer ou d’utiliser les
délibérations à des fins commerciales visant la réalisation d'un
profit financier. Toute reproduction ou utilisation non permise
ou non formellement autorisée peut être considérée comme
une violation du droit d’auteur aux termes de la Loi sur le
droit d’auteur. Une autorisation formelle peut être obtenue sur
présentation d’une demande écrite au Bureau du Président de
la Chambre.
Reproduction in accordance with this permission does not
constitute publication under the authority of the House of
Commons. The absolute privilege that applies to the
proceedings of the House of Commons does not extend to
these permitted reproductions. Where a reproduction includes
briefs to a Committee of the House of Commons, authorization for reproduction may be required from the authors in
accordance with the Copyright Act.
La reproduction conforme à la présente permission ne
constitue pas une publication sous l’autorité de la Chambre.
Le privilège absolu qui s’applique aux délibérations de la
Chambre ne s’étend pas aux reproductions permises. Lorsqu’une reproduction comprend des mémoires présentés à un
comité de la Chambre, il peut être nécessaire d’obtenir de
leurs auteurs l’autorisation de les reproduire, conformément à
la Loi sur le droit d’auteur.
Nothing in this permission abrogates or derogates from the
privileges, powers, immunities and rights of the House of
Commons and its Committees. For greater certainty, this
permission does not affect the prohibition against impeaching
or questioning the proceedings of the House of Commons in
courts or otherwise. The House of Commons retains the right
and privilege to find users in contempt of Parliament if a
reproduction or use is not in accordance with this permission.
La présente permission ne porte pas atteinte aux privilèges,
pouvoirs, immunités et droits de la Chambre et de ses comités.
Il est entendu que cette permission ne touche pas l’interdiction
de contester ou de mettre en cause les délibérations de la
Chambre devant les tribunaux ou autrement. La Chambre
conserve le droit et le privilège de déclarer l’utilisateur
coupable d’outrage au Parlement lorsque la reproduction ou
l’utilisation n’est pas conforme à la présente permission.
Also available on the Parliament of Canada Web Site at the
following address:
Aussi disponible sur le site Web du Parlement du Canada à
l’adresse suivante :
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Related manuals

Download PDF