Clients or customers were responsible for more than half of all sexual harassment in the workplace reported by Canadian women in 2016.
This figure appears in a Statistics Canada study surveying harassment in Canadian workplaces. It finds four per cent of women reported sexual harassment in the workplace, compared with less than one per cent of men.
Fifty-sixty per cent of women who reported sexual harassment in the workplace said their cases involved clients or customers. Colleagues or peers accounted for the remaining 44 per cent.
“Some research suggests that clients and customers, as well as colleagues and peers, are more frequent perpetrators of sexual harassment in the workplace than supervisors or managers because they have more opportunities to interact with potential targets,” reads the survey.
Looking at all forms of harassment, the study finds that 19 per cent of women reported workplace harassment, which the report defines as “objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comments, or actions by an individual, at any event or location related to work, which can reasonably be expected to offend, intimidate, humiliate or degrade.” Thirteen per cent of men reported workplace harassment.
Verbal abuse was the most common type of workplace harassment, followed by humiliating behaviour, while workers in health occupations were the most likely to report harassment.
Notably, the report implies a relationship between the level of harassment and the loyalty of workers. Forty-seven per cent of workers who reported harassment by supervisors and managers reported a weak sense of belonging to their current organization.
About 16 per cent of both women and men who said they had not been harassed at work in the past year had a weak sense of belonging to their current organization.