by Stacy Dunn
The PEI Human Rights Commission’s SHIFT Project raises awareness of the cause, impact, and prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Project Manager Sarah Denman-Wood travels around the Island speaking to youth, employees, employers, and industry associations on such topics as bystander intervention.
“The presentations can be targeted to whatever specific area the business is looking for,” she says. “It can be for management or all staff members. Or it can be about making sure your policies and procedures align with the Employment Standards Act, the PEI Human Rights Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”
Since July 1, 2020, the law on PEI has required all workplaces to have a workplace harassment policy. SHIFT offers free training and resources that workplaces are looking for. One resource is the Management Alert Program for service-based industries designed to deal quickly and efficiently with harassing customers and keep staff safe.
Partnerships In partnership with Community Legal Information’s RISE Program, the project produced a pair of videos in 2022 which explain how to identify workplace sexual harassment and what options are available to address it.
“When the federal government set out to fund five-year legal information and education projects across Canada in late 2019, both Community Legal Information and the Human Rights Commission applied to be part of the initiative,” Sarah says.
“Eventually it was determined that both would go ahead with different focus elements, Community Legal Information looking after legal advice and resources, and the Human Rights Commission would focus on raising awareness and a range of education aspects.
“It has worked out well. SHIFT explains how to recognize, address, and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, so it hopefully doesn’t happen again. RISE focuses on the legal options of reporting and can provide legal advice when sexual harassment happens.”
In the 2021-22 school year, SHIFT worked with two UPEI grad students to develop a three-day curriculum module in both English and French for the mandatory Career Explorations & Opportunities (CEO) course for all grade 10 students on the Island.
“It has been implemented at the high schools and we have done a professional development day with teachers on this curriculum and a few class presentations. The response so far has been great from teachers and students.”
Workplace Sexual Harassment Survey
In 2021, SHIFT conducted a survey to gauge the awareness and experiences of Island employers and employees when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace. We received 1621 completed surveys, and of those, 1,035 people on PEI said they had experienced workplace sexual harassment. Of those, 621 were women and 330 were men.
“One in every 52 PEI workers answered that survey,” Sarah says. “The survey showed that workplace sexual harassment is a significant problem here,” About two-thirds of respondents said they reported harassment to their managers. Of those who reported it, 84 percent said their employers took action. About 93 percent of respondents were satisfied with the action taken.
Respondents worked in the following industries:
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
- Retail trade
- Finance and insurance
- Professional, scientific, and technical services
- Educational services
- Healthcare and social assistance
- Accommodation and food services
- Other services (except public administration)
- Public administration
Training & Safety Kit available
One-third of respondents were uncomfortable with reporting the harassment. SHIFT created a Workplace Safety Kit to address this hurdle. The kit includes the name and number of the person who handles reports or incidents and adheres to the guidelines set out in the Guide to Workplace Harassment Regulations from the Workers Compensation Board of PEI.
“We will be adding new resources to this kit in the next 12 months. Workplace sexual harassment doesn’t not just affect people mentally. It has a lot of physical repercussions, and the training is like first aid – you don’t take training after the incident,” she says. “You take it beforehand, so you recognize it when someone needs help.”
The two main questions Sarah gets are ‘What do I do when it happens to me?’ and ‘What do I do when I see it happen to somebody else?’ She likes seeing Islanders want to take action.
“They want the confidence to say this not OK and be quicker to defend themselves and the people they work with.”
A new campaign is being launched for the project, reaching out to business owners, employers and managers via direct mailers, various job fairs around the Island and a new website – www.MakeItYourBusinessPEI.ca
Read “What We Heard”: Workplace Sexual Harassment PEI Public Survey Report in full, here
The SHIFT Project is an initiative of the PEI Human Rights Commission, with funding from the Department of Justice, Canada.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
call 902-368-4180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the videos about what to do when experiencing sexual harassment, click here