Cultural Change Key to Ending Sexual Harassment: Canadian Human Rights Commission

OTTAWA, October 16, 2012– Sexual harassment persists in Canada and policies alone can’t stop it, David Langtry, Acting Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission told the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women today.

The Committee is conducting a study on sexual harassment in federally regulated workplaces, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Act. One of the aspects of the study is the effectiveness of complaint channels and whether current policies are in need of review.

Mr. Langtry emphasized that it’s not enough to provide recourse to victims of sexual harassment. Organizations must do everything they can to prevent it from happening in the first place.

“Sexual harassment causes emotional pain and suffering. By the time someone seeks recourse or remedy, the damage is already done,” he said.

Mr. Langtry told the Committee that it is difficult to get a complete picture of sexual harassment from the number of complaints that come forward. “Filing a complaint takes courage. In some organizations, there are fears of stigma or retaliation,” he said.

Organizations should commit to a culture shift that fosters the inclusion of women and a workplace culture of respect, Mr. Langtry said. This includes “an equitable distribution of power within the workplace, with an equitable representation of women in positions of responsibility,” he said, noting that complaints of sexual harassment are more prevalent in hierarchical, male-dominated workplaces.

The full text of Mr. Langtry’s presentation to the Committee is available at:
http://www.chrc-ccdp.gc.ca/media_room/speeches-eng.aspx?id=709.

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Interviews and media enquiries:

David Gollob
Director of Communications
Canadian Human Rights Commission
613-943-9118