External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces - Culture of the CAF
Marie Deschamps, C.C. Ad.E.
External Review Authority
March 27, 2015
4. Culture of the CAF
While this Report does not aim at capturing all aspects of the culture of the CAF, or its many subcultures, the ERA found that certain cultural behaviours and expectations are directly related to the prevalence of inappropriate sexual conduct in the organization. Any discussion, therefore, of the causes and consequences of sexual harassment and assault in the armed forces— including the effectiveness of current policies and practices—must begin with an examination of the underlying cultural norms that inform the ways in which CAF members interact with each other, and what they perceive to be acceptable conduct.
According to Duty with Honour: Profession of Arms In Canada, first published by the CDS in 2003 and reviewed in 2009, “(t)he military ethos…is
the foundation upon which the legitimacy, effectiveness and honour of the Canadian Forces depend.”16 Amongst other goals, military ethos “is intended to establish the trust that must exist between the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian society; guide the development of military leaders who must exemplify the military ethos in their everyday actions; [and] enable professional self-regulation within the Canadian forces.”17 Military ethos is therefore essential to creating and maintaining a high degree of professionalism within the organization, and underpins the right of the CAF to self-regulate through an independent system of military justice. It is “the foundation upon which the legitimacy, effectiveness and honour of the Canadian Forces depend.”18
The concept of military ethos is founded upon respect for the values protected by the Canadian Charter of Human Rights (the Charter), including the right to dignity and security of the person.19 More precisely, DAOD 7023-0 on “Defence Ethics” emphasizes that the Canadian public expects the highest standards from CF members:
- The DND and the CF are integral parts of our democratic society and must reflect and practice the values of that society. Fundamental to the effectiveness of the DND and the CF is the strength and vitality of its ethical culture. The Canadian public expects the highest level of adherence to ethical standards by DND employees and CF members.
Leaders are taught that respect for the dignity of others takes precedence over other ethical principles:
- The Statement of Defence Ethics contains three ethical principles that are hierarchical in nature; that is, normally, the first one takes precedence over the second one, which takes
precedence over the third:
- Respect the dignity of all persons;
- Serve Canada before self; and
- Obey and support lawful authority.20
Further, CAF members belong to the “Profession of Arms”. Professionalism and military ethos are interconnected concepts:
- Understanding the nature of professionalism, its relation with the military ethos, and the vital institutional role of the CF is crucial to combat effectiveness and to meeting Canadian’s expectations that their military professionals will defend the nation with honour. This entails meeting the highest standards of professionalism and having a full understanding of the obligation inherent in military services.21
To meet the Canadian public’s high expectations, CF members:
- have a special responsibility to fulfill their functions competently and objectively for the benefit of society. [They] are governed by a code of ethics that establishes standards of conduct while defining and regulating their work. This code of ethics is enforced by the members themselves and contains values that are widely accepted as legitimate by society at large.22
The Canadian public has granted the CAF the right to self-govern. In some respects, this is related to the fact that Canadians hold members of the CAF to a higher standard of conduct than ordinary Canadians. This is because of the unique role played by the CAF in Canadian society and abroad. Thus, one of the reasons for establishing an independent military justice system, separate and apart from the justice system that regulates the conduct of ordinary Canadians, is to be able to uphold these higher standards. As Justice Lamer stated in R. v. Généreux:
Breaches of military discipline must be dealt with speedily and, frequently, punished more severely than would be the case if a civilian engaged in such conduct. 23
The National Defence Act includes the CAF’s Code of Service Discipline (the CSD), and is the legal foundation upon which the military justice system is based. In addition, policies on administrative and remedial measures24 give to CAF leaders specific tools to intervene to ensure compliance with those higher standards. Again, as leaders are instructed:
effective self-regulation is necessary to sustain the trust and confidence of both the Government and the society served by an armed force.25
As a consequence, significant responsibility is given to CAF leaders both to ensure that members are treated with dignity, and to maintain a standard of professional conduct that respects the dignity of all persons. Only by carrying out this self-regulation effectively will the CAF be able to maintain the trust and confidence of the broader Canadian public.
Unfortunately, however, it was apparent throughout the consultations that, with respect to inappropriate sexual conduct, the culture of the CAF on the ground does not, in many ways, measure up to the professional standards established by the policies and described in Duty with Honour. Rather, the ERA found that there is a significant disjunction between the aspiration of the CAF to embody a professional military ethos which embraces the principle of respect for the dignity of all persons, and the reality experienced by many CAF members day-to-day.
By “culture”, the ERA refers to the ways in which, over time, people who work or live within a particular organizational and institutional setting develop a shared set of understandings, which allow them to interpret and act upon the world around them. As one expert in organizational behaviour has defined it:
- Organizational culture is the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid, and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel, in relation to those problems.26
Organizational cultures are defined both by the values they espouse (for example in public statements of identity such as Duty With Honour and the DAOD policies), and deeper, tacit assumptions that are embedded, taken-for-granted behaviours. These assumptions are usually unconscious, and so well integrated in the organizational dynamic that members of the organizational culture may not even be able to recognize or identify them.27
The ways in which these shared assumptions are passed on to new members entering the organization, and in which the organization is able to develop a recognizable identity, are through processes of socialization. For example, training practices, social events, and rites of initiation are all means of bringing new members into an established group. Multiple sub-cultures will, of course, exist in any organization, particularly one as large and diverse as the CAF. These sub-cultures co-exist in overlapping, and sometimes conflicting, ways. At the same time, military organizations generally have particularly strong internal cultures because of their nature as “total institutions”28; members of the military live, work, train and socialize together within a closely regulated environment, largely set apart from the rest of society. The particular intensity of experience associated with training, combat, and the overall mission of the organization, also lends to the growth of a strong organizational culture.
The development of group culture can be a very positive phenomenon. Indeed, it is through shared assumptions and understandings that groups develop organizational cohesion, loyalty, and camaraderie, and are able to act together in efficient and effective ways to achieve their objectives. Throughout its consultations, the ERA observed many powerful and positive manifestations of the organizational culture of the CAF. Participants expressed their deep commitment to, and engagement in, the broader mission of the Canadian Armed Forces. Sparkling eyes, engaged voices and active participation in the interviews conveyed the sense of fulfillment these members experience both in their day-to-day work, and in their participation in the broader community of the armed forces. The ERA met with participants, both men and women, who appeared genuinely happy with their experiences in their unit. Participants indicated that military life allows them not only to contribute to society, but also to exercise their chosen trade or profession and to have an opportunity to move up the social ladder. The CAF provides them with the comfort of a family and the benefits of a rewarding work environment.
At the same time, however, the consultations revealed that there is a sexualized culture in the CAF, particularly among members of lower rank. This sexualized culture is manifested through the pervasive use of language that is demeaning to women, sexual jokes and innuendos, and low-level harassment. While the ERA heard fewer reports of sexual assault, it was clear that the occurrence of sexual harassment and sexual assault are integrally related, and that to some extent both are rooted in cultural norms that permit a degree of discriminatory and harassing conduct within the organization.
Interviewees consistently described cultural differences between the Air Force, the Navy and the Army, and it is clear that different subcultures exist within the three different service areas. For example, participants described members of the Air Forces as more “mature and educated” and the Air Force environment as one in which “skills are more valued”.29 However, ultimately there were no substantive differences between the three subcultures with respect to the nature, frequency or severity of sexual harassment and assault reported to the ERA. Neither was there any evidence that the responses of the CAF to such conduct were better or more effective in any one particular service. As such, the ERA’s findings and recommendations apply equally to all three branches of the CAF.
In the colleges the ERA visited—the Collège militaire royal du Canada and the Royal Military College of Canada—participants reported that sexual harassment is considered a “passage obligé”,30 and sexual assault an ever-present risk.31 One officer cadet joked that they do not report sexual harassment because it happens all the time.32
Experiences in reserve units appear to be more mixed; while members in several units reported a highly respectful environment, other units appear to have adopted a sexualized culture similar to the regular forces.33 Because of the constraints of the Review, the ERA did not have the opportunity to delve into the causes of the differences between various units. Therefore, no distinction is made in the Report between reserve units or between reserve and regular members.
In general, the ERA found that the locations where incidents of inappropriate sexual conduct occur are diverse. Although a number of interviewees mentioned that sexual assaults are more likely to occur in barracks, incidents of sexual harassment do not appear to be limited to particular locations or hours. As such, the ERA could not conclude that simple changes to physical facilities were likely to reduce the occurrence of inappropriate sexual conduct.
During the consultations—more particularly during focus group discussions with junior and senior non-commissioned members (NCMs)—the ERA found that there is a prevailing sexualized environment characterized by the frequent use of sexualized language, sexual jokes, innuendos, discriminatory comments with respect to the abilities of female members of the military, and less serious but unwelcome sexual touching, such as touching an individual’s
shoulder or back without her consent. While the degree to which this sexualized culture is evident may vary across regular and reserve, Naval, Land and Air Forces, and as between individual units and different ranks, the ERA found that it is widespread, and frequently condoned. Specifically, the ERA found that this sexualized culture creates a climate conducive to more serious incidents of sexual misconduct.34
More specifically, a significant majority of lower rank women who participated in the Review reported being exposed to frequent and demeaning sexualized language. As one interviewee put it, “all women have experienced to a certain extent how men do not want them in the military”.35 Another participant put it more bluntly, referring to the frequency with which women experience inappropriate sexual conduct in the CAF: “There is not a female who has not had a problem”.36
Experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault begin as early as basic training, where inappropriate language used by trainers appears to go unpunished.37 The consultations revealed that more serious conduct, such as dubious sexual encounters between trainers and trainees and date rape, is also prevalent.38 At the same time, interviewees commented that trainees are reluctant to call the behaviour of their trainers into question for fear of negative repercussions. As a result, many women trainees learn to keep their concerns to themselves early on. 39
Amongst the NCMs, the use of language that belittles women is commonplace. Interviewees reported regularly being told of orders to “stop being pussies” and to “leave your purses at home”.40 Swear words and highly degrading expressions that reference women’s bodies are endemic. The use of the word “cunt”, for example, is commonplace, and rape jokes are tolerated.41 In response, women feel pressure to accept the sexualized environment or risk social exclusion. Many develop informal coping mechanisms to protect themselves from persistent unwanted comments. Ultimately, many women report having to develop a thick skin
and to becoming desensitized to a culture of sexually inappropriate conduct.42 LGBTQ members also report a similarly degrading environment.43Notably, while the ERA heard numerous comments about the hostile environment that results from this pervasive low-level harassment, fewer participants reported instances of quid pro quo harassment (in which an individual feels pressured to accept unwelcome sexual conduct in exchange for some workplace benefit or to avoid some detrimental action against her).44 The ERA found, therefore, that members of the CAF are less likely to be faced with quid pro quo harassment than they are to be affected by an overall organizational culture that conveys demeaning and negative attitudes about the role and value of women.
Perhaps not surprisingly, male and female members of the CAF generally reported vastly different perceptions of the occurrence of inappropriate sexual conduct. While most male participants in the Review recognized that the experiences of their female colleagues are different, many of these male interviewees did not perceive that there is pervasive inappropriate sexual conduct in the CAF. Rather, many men perceived the treatment of women in the military to be similar to what they would experience in broader Canadian society,45 and some felt that women in fact fare better in the CAF than men do.46 Others argued that inappropriate incidents are simply inevitable as a result of the integration of women into the CAF, or expressed the view that a certain degree of aggression is appropriate in the military.47 In particular, most men did not view sexual language as harassing,48 and thought that attempts to “police” language would be “ridiculous”; 49 as one male participant stated, “girls that come to the Army know what to expect”.50
While women of a higher rank seemingly do not suffer as much from the sexualized environment, the ERA found that this is largely because members appear to internalize the prevailing sexualized culture as they move up through the organization. Whether to achieve their career goals or as a coping mechanism, female NCOs and higher-ranking women tend to adapt their own conduct and to adopt male attitudes in order to conform to the perceived social values of the organization.51 As one interviewee put it, “as women move up the ranks, so too does acceptance of the sexualized culture.”52 In point of fact, a number of lower ranking members,
both male and female, commented that many female NCOs do not mentor or support more junior women.53 Independent researchers also confirm that as a result of developing such coping mechanisms, women play a particular role in contributing to the “maintenance and re-creation of masculine military culture”.54
Indeed, among NCOs, the ERA heard—and itself observed—that the sexualized culture appears to be well established and that most NCOs have either internalized the prevailing culture to the point where they no longer perceive that harassment or misconduct is occurring, or accept that this is simply a part of life in the armed forces. 55 A number of contributors also observed personally that male senior NCOs also engage in inappropriate sexual conduct,56 including through the use of inappropriate language, sexual innuendos, harassing comments, and by seeking out relationships with lower-rank female members.57
Equally serious, many members reported that senior NCOs are responsible for “imposing a culture where no one speaks up”.58 Senior NCOs are generally perceived not only as condoning a culture of sexually inappropriate conduct, but also as actively deterring the reporting of such incidents.59 Given the critical role NCOs play in grooming junior officers,60 this is particularly problematic. Moreover where, as in many cases, the NCO is asked by the Responsible Officer to receive or investigate a harassment complaint, as well as to maintain discipline among subordinates,61 this can seriously impede a victim from coming forward to report misconduct.
The sexualized culture appears to be less evident among junior officers, perhaps because not all junior officers receive their training in a military college and therefore have not been in the CAF environment long enough to internalize the culture. However, the ERA found that too often junior officers turned a blind eye to the inappropriate conduct occurring around them. While many junior officers interviewed by the ERA conveyed their satisfaction with military life and stated that they had never been exposed to incidents of sexual misconduct,62 others appeared to be either
Further, the ERA found that many officers were quick to excuse sexual incidents in the CAF on the basis that this kind of conduct is a “reflection of Canadian society”.65 Both male and female officers appeared to have become desensitized to the prevalence of sexually inappropriate conduct,66 and female officers in particular reported wanting incidents of sexual misconduct they had experienced to just “be dealt with” without formal complaint, so they could “move on”.67 The ERA also heard numerous comments about dubious relationships between members of different rank in which the participants questioned whether the lower ranking (usually female) member had been induced into the relationship, or where consent was not truly genuine.68
Ultimately, there was a broad perception among participants that the senior leadership of the CAF condones sexually inappropriate conduct. One of the comments heard most frequently by the ERA was that addressing inappropriate sexual conduct is not a priority for CAF leaders.69 Senior leaders are perceived as “burying the issues” and as being “desensitized”.70 This is exacerbated by the fact that the career posting system favours avoiders: Responsible Officers (responsible for receiving and addressing complaints of sexual harassment), moving from one posting to the other, are likely to leave complaints unresolved or, as an incomer, resist taking action.71
A number of interviewees felt that the sexualized culture in the CAF is tied to broader challenges that women face integrating into the organization. While many members stated that there has been significant improvement to overt displays of sexism (for example, pictures of nude women are no longer posted in lockers and pornographic movies are no longer shown in messes),72 the ERA found that many men continue to hold negative attitudes about the presence of women in the military. For example, a commonly held attitude is that, rather than be a soldier, a sailor or an aviator, a woman will be labeled an “ice princess”, a “bitch”, or a “slut”.73 Another saying is that women enter the CAF “to find a man, to leave a man, or to become a man”.74 Men often greet a new woman in their unit with a comment such as, “fuck, I have a girl in my crew”.75 The overall perception is that a “boy’s club” culture still prevails in the armed forces.76
Civilian tribunals often deal with complaints of sexual harassment against women within the framework of sex discrimination, and there is an undeniable connection between the negative views of some male members about the role of women in the military, and the prevalence of inappropriate sexual conduct in the CAF. In the ERA’s view, however, the roots of inappropriate sexual conduct are not confined to discriminatory attitudes. Rather, such conduct appears to be more broadly related to issues of power and control. This is illustrated, for example, by the evidence the ERA heard about male-on-male sexual abuse, in which sexual violence is used as a means of punishing or ostracizing another member.77
Indeed, a significant body of sociological research has developed around the inter-related issues of gender, power, and identity in military cultures, including in the CAF.78 Studies have, for example, examined how the ideal of the combat male warrior concept has impacted on the integration of women into the military. 79 Researchers have also looked at the deep-seated hierarchical nature of military cultures, and the degree to which emphasis on the values of obedience, conformity and respect for superiors can lead to abuses of power, the susceptibility of junior members to negative social influence, and under-reporting of unprofessional behaviour. Research has, moreover, been carried out on how women negotiate traditional male military cultures, including through adaptive techniques and mechanisms for coping with risks of sexual harassment and assault.80
While the ERA found such studies insightful and of considerable assistance in understanding some of the underlying dynamics potentially at work in the CAF, the mandate of the Review is not to engage in an in-depth sociological examination of the cultural dynamics of the armed forces. Nevertheless, the ERA notes that many of the observations in the sociological literature are strongly consistent with the comments made by participants.81 It is therefore important to examine whether there are particular structural and cultural conditions within the military that contribute to an increased risk of harassment and assault.
Throughout its consultations, the ERA identified a number of risk factors that increase the vulnerability of members of the CAF, and particularly women, to incidents of inappropriate sexual conduct. As discussed, the prevailing sexualized environment constitutes the background for more severe sexual assaults. However, particular risk factors were also repeatedly identified by participants, which aggravate the risk of sexual assault.
The use and abuse of alcohol by CAF members appears to be one of the most significant contributors to sexual assault. While the consumption of alcohol is not in and of itself problematic, and may have some benefits in terms of enhancing esprit de corps, the ERA heard repeatedly from members that the excessive consumption of alcohol, which significantly lowers social inhibitions, made the chance of sexual harassment or sexual assault more likely to occur.82 At the same time, members were much less likely to report such incidents because of a fear that they would be viewed as having been complicit in the conduct.83
With respect to the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault, age, linked with a lack of maturity, appears to be a prominent factor, given that young persons are “still exploring their sexuality” and feel “invulnerable”.84 Further, the unique circumstances of training, operational deployment,85 and career courses, may create particular conditions of vulnerability. In particular, when a member is geographically relocated, a number of factors may make him or her more vulnerable and a target of inappropriate sexual conduct. These include the loss of family or social support networks, the communal setting, and a lack of knowledge of, or trust in, the temporary chain of command. 86
These risk factors are exacerbated by a number of other inter-related conditions, many of which have already been discussed. These include:87
- the prevalence, and possible escalation, of sexually inappropriate conduct (ranging from low-level harassment to assault);
- the perception that sexually inappropriate conduct is condoned by the chain of command, which contributes to a higher likelihood of inappropriate sexual behaviour;
- the lack of trust in the chain of command to prevent inappropriate sexual conduct from occurring, or to resolve incidents of sexual harassment and assault;
- the perception that the policies are inconsistently applied and that the CAF does not sanction sexual misconduct in a meaningful way; and
- the failure of many victims of sexual harassment and assault to report such incidents to the CAF.
Combined together, such conditions may intensify the vulnerabilities of some CAF members, most notably female recruits and lower-rank women, to sexual predation.
The interconnection between these phenomena highlights a key point. The existence of a culture in which low-level inappropriate sexual conduct is generally condoned is problematic not only because it may be uncomfortable for, and offensive to, some members of the CAF. More importantly, the existence of a sexualized culture creates an environment that is conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault. As described above, the ERA found that members are less likely to be willing to report incidents of sexual harassment and assault in a context in which there is a general perception that it is permissible to objectify women’s bodies, make unwelcome and hurtful jokes about sexual interactions with female members, and cast aspersions on the capabilities of female members. That such conduct is generally ignored, or even condoned, by the chain of command prevents many victims from reporting incidents of inappropriate sexual conduct. At the same time, it likely feeds a feeling of invulnerability on the part of predatory members, which can open the door to more aggressive sexual behaviours. This is exacerbated by the fact that many of the more serious complaints of sexual harassment or assault appear to be disbelieved, brushed under the table, or result in only minimal sanctions.
Based on the consultations, the ERA finds that the CAF has not achieved its goal of maintaining the high standard of conduct that the Canadian public expects leaders to maintain, when it comes to incidences of sexual harassment and sexual assault. In many cases, leaders are failing to ensure that members conduct themselves in a professional manner, or that “CF members and others in the care or protection of the CF are not subjected to coercion or exploitation”.88 Indeed, the norms of conduct in the CAF appear to fall below what would be tolerated in most workplaces.
In particular, the ERA finds the failure of CAF senior leaders, and particularly those with general oversight responsibilities, to maintain a respectful and inclusive environment troubling. While the use of highly-disrespectful and sexualized language may seem like a minor issue to some, the
ERA heard repeatedly throughout the consultations that many women find the use of such demeaning language offensive, humiliating and denigrating. Further, the use of sexual language and innuendos, without reprimand or sanction, creates an environment that is hostile to women and LGBTQ individuals, sends a negative message about the value of these members in the CAF, and creates a workplace culture that is conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault.
While, as mentioned above, some male participants in the Review scoffed at the idea of “policing language” as “ridiculous”, in the ERA’s view this is, in fact, a critical step in reforming the culture of the CAF to create a more inclusive organizational culture and to reduce the incidence of sexually inappropriate conduct. Indeed, many civilian workplaces have addressed the use of offensive and demeaning language in the workplace for exactly this reason. In one case, for example, a captain in a fire department was disciplined for referring to women firefighters as “cunts”. 89 Faced with the concern that female firefighters had already reported feeling marginalized within the service, and that some male firefighters might continue to believe that such disrespectful language was acceptable, the employer terminated the captain—despite the fact that he had an unblemished record of thirty years—in order to send a clear message that such conduct would not be tolerated. Subsequently, the employee issued an apology and the employer reduced the sanction to an eight-week suspension. The captain then grieved the eight- week suspension and the dispute went to arbitration.
In dismissing the grievance, the arbitrator emphasized the importance of the employer’s goal in trying to change the male-dominated culture in the workplace, and to create a more inclusive workplace. As the arbitrator stated:
Firstly, we must consider the context of the workplace. The City and the CFD have a duty to take all reasonable efforts to maintain a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. Firefighting is a male-dominated profession with only 30 female firefighters in a CFD workforce of about 1300. A major objective of the CFD is to create a more inclusive workplace creating a welcome environment for women. Negative attitudes towards women and hostile conduct towards women firefighters undermine the efforts of CFD to make progress on this important objective.
Secondly, we must consider the context of the Grievor's position as Fire Captain. While the position is within the bargaining unit, a Fire Captain supervises and commands the crew at a Fire Hall. Fire Captain is a position of authority and leadership within the CFD. Fire Captains are expected to serve as role models demonstrating appropriate conduct for the crews they command. Captains are expected to lead by example with respect to their peers, colleagues, and the public.
Thirdly, we must consider the content of the statements in question. Obviously, referring to female firefighters as "gash" and "cunts" is repugnant and demeaning towards women…
The Grievor's comments would have been demoralizing to Firefighter #1. She would have understood that her supervisor on that day was prepared to refer to her in a repugnant and demeaning way. She would also have understood he believed that having female firefighters at a Fire Station was a very negative circumstance.
…By referring to the female firefighters as "gash" and "cunts", he was sending a message to the crew he led on that day that it was acceptable to refer to their female colleagues using degrading and demeaning terms. As importantly, he sent the message to the crew that brought into the question the legitimacy of even having female firefighters. That message was entirely inappropriate. Given that Captains are to serve as role models and given the CFD objective of creating an inclusive working environment for women, the Grievor's comments constitute a profound failure of leadership. Such conduct is deserving of a very serious disciplinary response.90
Sexualized language is problematic not only because it is offensive and demeaning, but also because of the message it sends about the value to be attached to women in the workforce. As the arbitrator commented, the use of such language “constitute[s] a profound failure of leadership.”
Underlying the arbitrator’s reasoning is the view that simply because a workplace has traditionally been male-dominated does not mean that women (or LGBTQ members) should be required to tolerate offensive and demeaning behaviour. Women should not be required to accept that a male-dominated workplace will be rough and coarse, or that the environment that pre-existed the entrance of women workers will set the contextual norm against which sexual harassment will be judged.91 As participants in the Review commented, women members of the CAF should not be required to act like men, or to tolerate discriminatory conduct, in order to belong to the organization or be promoted through the ranks.
The firefighter case further illustrates the importance of two key tools for effecting cultural change. First, the organization must develop clear policies establishing what conduct is and is not permissible; and second, the organization must implement those policies in a strict and consistent manner, including by imposing meaningful sanctions where a breach occurs. It is only in this way that an organization can move towards real cultural change. Such a change, however, cannot occur without the willingness of leaders to identify and sanction offensive conduct when it occurs.
In order to bring about cultural change in an organization, and to reduce the occurrence of sexual harassment and sexual assault, it is essential that senior leaders, and particularly those with general oversight responsibilities, become directly engaged in cultural reform. This includes not only putting in place strong policies and following up with strict implementation, but also integrating these policies into a global strategy that includes better role modelling. Lower ranking male members need to see senior male leaders clearly acknowledge, through word and conduct, that inappropriate sexual conduct is unacceptable in the CAF. Lower ranking female members need to see that senior leaders value the role of women in the armed forces, and recognize the serious and negative impact of inappropriate sexual conduct.
Junior officers and NCOs, both male and female, also need to act as role models. Female leaders face a particular challenge. As noted, numerous participants in the interviews reported hearing negative comments about the presence of women in the military. Others commented that there are few mentors for female members, and that there are not enough women to have sufficient peer support. 92 Further, it was obvious to the ERA that, while there is strong representation of women in certain trades, such as support or medical, there is a very low proportion of women in operational positions, and a very low representation of women in the senior ranks and high command overall. Women contribute to a diverse workforce that strengthens the CAF’s ability to be an effective, modern, relevant and high-performing organization. The ERA notes that many military organizations struggle with the under- representation of women and that there appears to be less interest among women than men in pursuing military careers. Nevertheless, the under-representation of women in the armed forces at all levels, but in senior positions in particular, should remain a source of concern for the CAF. While the mandate of the Review did not explicitly include an examination of the integration of women into the CAF, there is an undeniable link between the existence of negative and discriminatory attitudes towards women in the CAF, the low representation of women in senior positions in the organization, and the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault.
Proactive leadership is essential to give appropriate attention and momentum to initiatives to reduce the prevalence of inappropriate sexual conduct, and to demonstrate to members, both men and women, that the CAF values the presence of women in the organization and takes seriously its responsibility to foster a more inclusive culture. In particular, the importance of direct engagement by senior leaders to bring about cultural change should not be underestimated. Research shows that it is the CEO’s commitment, in words and actions, to gender diversity that creates the greatest incentive for members of the organization to adopt programs and metrics to improve the integration of women into the workplace. This involves addressing breaches of conduct and implicit bias amongst senior leaders, appointing women to positions of power, developing support networks for women, and reviewing policies for gender inclusiveness.93
These strategies have been adopted by a number of Canadian organizations, both in law enforcement and in the corporate world. The Vancouver Police Department (VPD), for example, has set itself the goal of achieving more diversity in the service,94 including by increasing the representation of women. To achieve this goal, a multi-facetted strategy has been implemented, including the personal involvement of the Chief of Police, targeted hiring strategies, hiring expert trainers, and involving the service in a number of activities supporting diversity. As a result of such initiatives, in 2014, 24% of sworn members of the VPD were women. Even more significant, the VPD has increased the percentage of female officers from 0.5% in 2011 to 30% in 2014, and the percentage of female Staff Sergeants and Deputy Chiefs from 0% in 2012 to approximately 15% in 2014. Similar strategies have also been adopted by large civilian organizations such as BCE, where the Chief Executive Officer was personally involved in the implementation of the organization’s Code of Ethics (which contains part of the company’s policies on inappropriate sexual conduct), because of the importance to the organization of maintaining a high standard of conduct.
One of the critical strategies these organizations have undertaken to bring about cultural change is to appoint more women to key positions within the governance structure. As a result of public pressure, for example, the percentage of women on the boards of Canadian stock index companies—traditionally, a male dominated environment—has increased to 20.2% in 2014.95 Further, the percentage of women in Canada at the level of senior management was 27% in 2013.96 The CIA is another example of an organization that has made a notable transformation
of its culture by ensuring that women have greater representation across the agency, with women making up 46% of the CIA’s workforce. In addition, the CIA has made significant efforts to appoint women at the highest levels of senior leadership.97
By comparison with the representation of women in these organizations, the CAF and other military organizations are lagging behind. As of January 1, 2015, 14.57% of all officers in the CAF were women, or 2758.98 This is analogous to the representation of women on the boards of directors of the largest American companies ten years ago.99 By comparison, the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) report that female officers represent 18.2% of all officers. This places the ADF somewhat ahead of the CAF, and indicates that increasing the representation of women officers in senior positions in a military organization is possible.
Increasing the presence of women in the higher levels of the organization is likely to have a significant impact on improving the professionalism of CAF culture, and to create a more inclusive and equitable environment. 100 Equally important, a gender-based analysis of CAF policies would help to ensure that policies do not implicitly lead to discriminatory practices. Such a step is necessary to remove barriers to women entering the CAF, and progressing up the ranks in the organization.
Whereas the remainder of this Report will address how CAF policies and procedures on sexual harassment and assault should be improved, the ERA cannot emphasize strongly enough that revising policies without addressing the underlying cultural conditions would be an exercise in futility. Because of the nature and pervasiveness of the problems of sexual harassment and sexual assault, leaders need to realize that these are institutional issues, not just individual issues, and certainly not just a woman’s issue. Inappropriate sexual conduct does not occur in a cultural vacuum, but in many cases is a manifestation of, or response to, underlying systemic conditions. Without taking fundamental steps to bring about cultural change, even the best policies will be ineffective and the consequences of inappropriate sexual conduct will continue to affect the well-being of members, the effectiveness of units, and the cohesion of the CAF as a whole. Thus, a change in cultural attitudes is imperative both to protect the right of members to integrity and dignity, and to improve military efficiency.
Recommendation No. 1
- Acknowledge that inappropriate sexual conduct is a serious problem that exists in the CAF and undertake to address it.
Recommendation No. 2
- Establish a strategy to effect cultural change to eliminate the sexualized environment and to better integrate women, including by conducting a gender-based analysis of CAF policies.
16 Duty with Honour: Profession of Arms, 2009, p. 26
17 Duty with Honour: Profession of Arms, 2009, p. 26
18 Duty with Honour: Profession of Arms, 2009, p. 26
19 Duty with Honour: Profession of Arms, 2009, p. 30
20 Leadership in the Canadian Forces: Leading People, 2007, p. 16
21 Duty with Honour, Profession of Arms, 2009, p. 23
22 Definition of “profession” adopted in Duty with Honour: Profession of Arms, 2009, p. 6
23 R. v. Généreux,  1 S.C.R. 259
24 DAOD 5019-2 Administrative Review; DAOD 5019-4 Remedial Measures
25 Leadership in the Canadian Forces: Conceptual Foundations, 2007, p. 42
26 E.H. Schein, Coming to a New Awareness of Organizational Culture, Sloan Management
27 E.H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership 4th Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010
28 E. Goffman, Asylums (New York) Anchor Books, 1961
29 Focus group: PAT; Coordinator interviews
30 Focus group: female trainees, female NCOs, female junior officers; Coordinator interviews
31 Focus group: mixed gender junior officers; Coordinator interviews
32 Volunteer contribution
33 Focus groups: female lower rank, reserve units; Volunteer contribution
34 Participants in Coordinator interviews also commented on the connection between the generalized sexual environment and the likelihood of more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault occurring.
35 Coordinator interview
36 Coordinator interview
37 Focus groups: female lower rank, mixed gender PAT
38 Focus groups: female trainees; Coordinator interviews
39 Focus groups: female trainees, female NCOs
40 Focus groups: female trainees, female lower rank, female NCOs; Coordinator interview
41 For example, the expression “a cunt’s hair away” is frequently used as a unit of measurement (Focus group: male lower rank); “C U Next Thursday” is used to refer to “cunt” without appearing to do so (Focus group: female lower rank); one female NCM reported being repeatedly greeted in a meeting room with the letters C U N T posted on the wall (Focus group: reserve lower rank); “if a guy was charged for using the word [cunt], he would make sure to drive the girl down” (Focus group: male lower rank); the word “slut” is run-of-the-mill (Focus groups: male lower rank, male NCOs; Volunteer contribution)
42 Focus groups: female trainees, female lower rank (several), mixed gender NCOs, female NCOs; female reserve (several), mixed gender reserves (several); Coordinator interviews
43 Focus groups: male lower rank (several); Volunteer contributions
44 This is a pattern that has been noted in other military organizations: A. Estrada and A. Berggren, Sexual Harassment and its Impact for Women Officers and Cadets in the Swedish Armed Forces, Military Psychology, 21:162–185, 2009, p. 166
45 Focus group: male lower rank; Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contributions
46 Focus groups: male lower rank (several)
47 Focus group: male lower rank
48 Focus groups: male lower rank, male PAT; Coordinator interviews
49 Focus group: male PAT
50 Focus group: male lower rank
51 Focus groups: female reserve, male reserve; Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contributions
52 Volunteer contribution
53 Focus groups: female lower rank (several), male lower rank (several), female NCOs (several), mixed gender reserve (several); Coordinator interview
54 K. Davis, Negotiating Gender in the Canadian Forces, 1970-1999, Doctoral Thesis presented at RMCC,2013, p. 66; K. Mackenzie Davey, Women’s Accounts of Organizational Politics as a Gendering Process, 2008 Vol 15 Gender, Work and Organization 650
55 Focus groups: male trainees, female NCOs, mixed gender reserve; Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contribution
56 Focus groups: female lower rank (several); Coordinator interview
57 Focus groups: female lower rank (several)
58 Focus groups: female lower rank (several); Coordinator interviews
59 Focus groups: female lower rank (several); Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contribution
60 Focus groups: reserve (several); Coordinator interviews
61 Focus groups: junior officers
62 Focus group: junior officers; Volunteer contribution
63 Focus groups: mixed gender junior officers, male junior officers; female junior officers; Coordinator interviews
64 Coordinators interviews
65 Focus group: reserve; Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contribution
66 Focus groups: female NCOs, female junior officers
67 Focus groups: female junior officers; Volunteer contribution
68 Focus groups: female lower rank (several), male lower rank, female NCOs; Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contribution
69 Focus groups: female lower rank; Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contributions
70 Focus groups: female lower rank, female NCOs; Coordinator interviews
71 Focus groups: PAT, female NCOs; Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contributions
72 Coordinator interviews
73 Focus groups: female trainees, female lower rank, male lower rank; Coordinator interview
74 Focus group: female reserve
75 Focus groups: female lower rank, female reserve; Coordinator interviews
76 Focus groups: female lower rank; female NCOs; Coordinator interviews
77 Coordinator interview; Volunteer contribution; see also S. McDonald and A. Tijerino, Male Survivors of Sexual Assault: Their Experiences, Dept. Justice Canada, 2013
78 L. M. Cortina and J. L. Bergdahl, Sexual Harassment in Organizations, A decade of Research in Review in The Sage Handbook on Organizational Behaviour, Chap. 25, 2008, p. 474; H. Carreras, Gender and the Military Women in the Armed Forces of Western Democracies, 2006. P. 53; C.M. Hunt M.J. Davidson S.L. Fielden H. Hoel, (2010),Reviewing sexual harassment in the workplace – an intervention model, Personnel Review, Vol. 39 Iss 5, p. 655, at 659;
79 Women in the Military: Facing the Warrior Framework, K. Davis and B. McKee, in Challenge andChange in the Military: Gender and Diversity Issue. Edited by F.C. Pinch, A.T. MacIntyre, P. Browne, and A.C. Okros, Chap. 2, p. 52; A.X. Estrada, K.J. Olson and C.R. Harbke, Evaluating a Brief Scale measuring Psychological Climate for Sexual Harassment at p. 416; V. Basham, Armed Forces & Society: Effecting Discrimination: Operational Effectiveness and Harassment in the British Armed Forces, September 2008, at p. 732; K.D. Davis, Negotiating Gender in the Canadian Forces, 1970-1999, 2013, at p. 53 to 55
80 See also: Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, A study on Sexual Harassment in the Federal Workplace, presented to the House of Commons on February 2014, at p. 26
81 Coordinator interviews
82 Focus groups: female lower rank, mixed gender junior officers; Coordinator interviews
83 Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contributions
84 Focus group: female trainees; Coordinator interviews
85 The ERA heard the expression “deployment” used mostly to refer to deployment for exercise rather than on a mission.
86 Focus group: female lower rank; Coordinator interviews
87 Coordinator interviews; Volunteer contributions
88 DAOD 5019-1 Personal Relationships and Fraternization
89 Calgary (City) and Calgary Fire Fighters Assn. (Hendricks) (Re), (2012) 111 C.L.A.S. 331
90 Calgary (City) and Calgary Fire Fighters Assn. (Hendricks), (Re), (2012) 111 C.L.A.S. 331 at paras 33- 38
91 A. P. Aggarwal and M. M. Gupta, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, 2000, p. 153
92 Focus groups: female trainees, female NCOs; Volunteer contributions
93 How to engage senior men to promote women to decision-making positions, Working Paper. European Commission’s Network to Promote Women in Decision-making in Politics and the Economy (September, 2012) at p. 5
94 Volunteer interview with a number of high level representatives of the Vancouver Police Department, including Chief Jim Chu.
95 2014 Catalyst Census: Women Board Directors. New York: 2015.http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/2014-catalyst-census-women-board-directors
96 Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Management, Global Comparison. New York: Catalyst, 2014; http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-management-global-comparison
97 Nevertheless, structural barriers still exist to the promotion of women to senior positions. A number of appointments of women to positions of senior leadership were made following an external review of the CIA’s practices with respect to the hiring and promotion of women by Madeleine Albright in 2012, which resulted in the report CIA Women in Leadership. Brigid Schulte, “Many women in CIA still encounter glass ceiling, agency report says”. The Washington Post. June 13, 2013. For the 2013 report CIA Women in Leadership see https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/CIA_Women_In_Leadership_March2013.pdf
98 Figures provided by CAF. As of January 1, 2015, there were 2758 female officers and 16,165 male officers out of a total of 65,691 regular members.
99 Figures for Canadian companies are not readily available, but an analogy can be made to the largest American companies, where women held 14.7% of the board of director seats in 2005: 2005 Catalyst Census of Women on Board of Directors of the Fortune 500: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/2005- catalyst-census-women-board-directors-fortune-500
100 Focus groups: female trainees, female lower rank; Volunteer contribution
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