[Content Warning: Sexual Harassment]
When we think about workplace sexual harassment, we tend to picture someone in a position of power – usually a man – making regular, ongoing and overt physical advances to a subordinate. And while that scenario does play out in workplaces across North America (just look at the Harvey Weinstein scandal that rocked Hollywood starting in 2017), there are far more subtle, standalone or nuanced incidences, and many more still that are never reported.
Setting the scene for Safer Spaces
According to a 2020 report by Statistics Canada, one in four women and one in six men experienced inappropriate sexualized behaviours at work within the previous year, including inappropriate verbal or non-verbal communication, sexually explicit materials, and unwanted physical contact. Many victims who didn’t report the harassment said they were fearful that their careers would suffer as a result (20 percent of women and eight percent of men). And, while all workplaces in Canada are required to comply with anti-harassment and discrimination laws, approximately one-third of women and one-quarter of men said they hadn’t received any information from their employer on how to report sexual harassment and sexual assault.
While workplace sexual harassment is a serious issue in all industries, go2HR is actively working to reduce the problem in tourism and hospitality. With financial support from Justice Canada, the organization has embarked on a three-year initiative called “Safer Spaces” that comprises the following:
- An extensive education and information campaign to help raise awareness about sexual harassment and provide resources to help prevent it
- The creation of two industry-focused online training courses; one for employers and supervisors and the other for workers
Through this programming, Safer Spaces will act as a conduit towards increased awareness of the topic, the reporting of workplace sexual harassment and, ultimately, reducing incidences of harassment in tourism and hospitality.