Nearly 1 in 4 Manitoba employers have seen issues with sexual harassment: survey – Manitoba

Nearly one in four employers in Manitoba have had issues with sexual harassment come up in the workplace, a new survey suggests. 

In the wake of allegations of sexual assault by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, other celebrities, politicians and people in power, Probe Research looked at sexual harassment in its annual business leaders index survey for the first time. 

The results, released on Friday morning, showed 74 per cent of business people surveyed said, to their knowledge, “no issues have come up” over the past five years when it comes to sexual harassment on the job.

About 23 per cent said issues had come up and one respondent said there was a chronic problem at their workplace. 

It doesn’t come as a surprise, said Barb Bowes, president of Winnipeg human resources firm Legacy Bowes, but the survey might not actually reflect what’s going on in Manitoba businesses. 

“I think a lot of people were absolutely afraid to come forward. They will quit first,” Bowes said. 

With the #MeToo movement and a growing public consciousness about what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour at work, Bowes said she expects the numbers to change. Her business has seen a stark increase in businesses and employees reaching out.

The phrase #MeToo was started more than a decade ago by activist Tarana Burke, but after the recent allegations of sexual assault, millions of women have shared their experiences online using the hashtag. Time magazine named “The Silence Breakers” its 2017 Person of the Year earlier this month.

“Something is happening out there in terms of attention,” Bowes said. 

The Manitoba survey interviewed 124 businesses in Winnipeg and 81 outside, and did not include federal, provincial or municipal departments, hospitals, schools or non-profit organizations.

The change in sexual harassment culture on the job is not only about people feeling more comfortable speaking out, Bowes said, it’s important employers create clear and consistent…

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