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Rogue Thoughts: Addressing Workplace Harassment in Canadian Organizations

Over the next few weeks, the Rogue Team will be sharing a number of ideas and opinions put together in collaboration with some of the people we have been working with over the past year.

Today's post comes from Elissa Jestings, Senior HR Partner at People Stuff, exploring some of the challenges facing businesses and organizations when it comes to Workplace Harassment.

Effectively addressing workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, remains an ongoing challenge in Canadian workplaces. Recent statistics, such as those presented in the Canadian Labour Congress 2022 report, underscore the ongoing concern surrounding harassment. For example, 7 in 10 workers report experiencing some form of harassment and violence at work, with 88% of these individuals facing consequences such as being transferred, suspended, fired, or losing shifts.

Harassment isn’t just a problem between two people. Trying to fix it by focusing only on individuals isn’t good enough. To really get it, we need to see harassment as an organizational issue. Looking at the whole picture helps us figure out where the problem comes from and how to solve it.

The usual way of dealing with a few troublemakers and punishing them, doesn’t really fix the root causes of harassment. To make a real difference, companies need to change the way they operate and who’s in charge. Leaders have a big impact on whether a workplace is toxic or not.

When people are treated badly at work, it can happen in many ways, and the whole organization needs to deal with it seriously.

It’s important to see it as a problem that affects everyone. Looking at how things like discrimination, bullying, and microaggressions are connected to the overall atmosphere at

work is key. Leaders should actively support a work environment where everyone feels included and respected, so there’s no room for any kind of mistreatment.

Regular check-ins, such as stay surveys, play an important role in understanding and resolving various types of harassment within a workplace. These check-ins serve as early warnings, enabling organizations to correct toxic environments and prevent the escalation of harassment. Organizations require leaders who are genuinely committed to combating workplace harassment, requiring changes in recruitment, training, and support practices.

Leaders must demonstrate positive values and clearly communicate a zero-tolerance policy for mistreatment. Acknowledging the significance of diversity, including gender diversity, can contribute to lowering harassment rates, emphasizing that diverse perspectives foster truly inclusive workplaces.

Addressing workplace harassment demands a practical and people-focused approach that addresses all forms of mistreatment. Viewing it as an organizational challenge involves combating toxic cultures, challenging social norms, and implementing proactive measures.

Leaders who prioritize care, a commitment to diversity, and a committed dedication to creating safe and inclusive workplaces emerge as key elements in effecting lasting change.


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