Sexual harassment in the workplace is an 'epidemic,' says human resources survey

Sexual harassment is far more prevalent in Canadian workplaces than company executives would like to believe, a new report says.

Indeed, the report from the Human Resources Professionals Association says recent revelations of harassment in the political, media, entertainment and business sectors have exposed the ``dark reality'' that sexual harassment in the workplace is an ``epidemic that has been allowed to persist.''

In a survey of the association's members, 17 per cent reported having witnessed an employee being sexually harassed or assaulted at work.

And 19 per cent reported an increase in the number of complaints they've received about harassment, a percentage that is not ``dramatic'' but ``still significant.''

The report notes that an online survey of 2,000 Canadians conducted by Navigator in February found that just over one third of female respondents and 12 per cent of men said they had been sexually harassed at work.

Yet, in another survey of company executives, conducted by the Gandalf Group, 94 per cent of respondents said sexual harassment is not a problem in their workplaces and 93 per cent believed they have a corporate culture that prevents it.