HR leaders must review workplace rules in the wake of Ghomeshi-gate

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HR professionals may be guilty of sweeping sexual harassment issues under the rug and one Ontario politician says it has to stop.

Less than a month ago, Jhian Ghomeshi was considered CBC’s untouchable golden-boy but now, as more and more women come forward with unsavoury tales of sexual harassment, we’re forced to ask ourselves how Ghomeshi survived at the top for so long.

According to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the scandal is shedding light on the culture of poorly enforcing sexual harassment rules in the workplace; “What we're talking about is whether the culture of enforcement and the culture of ongoing review and training is actually taking place," said Wynne.

One of Ghomeshi's former co-workers is reported to have complained about his abusive behaviour to a union representative and the show's executive producer, Arif Noorani, but nothing substantive was done.

It’s a particularly sensitive subject that HR professionals would rather do without but does that mean you too may be guilty of sweeping sexual harassment issues under the rug? Now, Wynne is calling for a complete review of workplace practice surrounding sexual harassment rules.

She reminded listeners that existing legislation governing safe workplaces makes it clear unwanted touching and sexualized comments are entirely unacceptable in the workplace, adding that everyone is responsible for ensuring rules are enforced.

"We all have to be vigilant, wherever we work, wherever we live, to make sure that all the rules are being followed," she said.

The comments also come on the back of recently reported cases in which doctors are allowed to continue practicing despite facing allegations of sexual misconduct. 

"It's one of those things, I think, that people would rather have a zero approach to when it comes to that kind of activity," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

Wynne is now under pressure to create a legislative committee to study issues surrounding sexual harassment at work. The Progressive Conservatives, who are pushing the notion, called the Ghomeshi scandal "a lightening rod" that has finally put the issue on the public agenda.

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