WestJet shareholders rejected a request today to remove president and CEO Gregg Saretsky over the way the airline is handling allegations of sexual assault in the workplace.

The call for the board of directors to replace Saretsky came during the company's annual general meeting in Calgary.

Emma Pullman, with the activist group Sum of Us, said the CEO needs to be held accountable for the company's investigation of a flight attendant's complaint that she was sexually assaulted by a pilot while they were in Hawaii.

"The company sets the tone and we believe that this issue goes right to the top," Pullman said.

"Mr. Saretsky enabled a work environment where allegations of sexual assault were not adequately investigated. It's not just the issue of one bad egg."

Emma Pullman Sum of Us

Emma Pullman, with the activist group Sum of Us, speaks during the WestJet 2016 annual general meeting in Calgary. (CBC)

Shareholders voted against removing Saretsky, who defended the way the company has responded to the allegations.

He noted WestJet has hired Ernst & Young to review the company's policies and how it handled the alleged assault in Hawaii.

"It hasn't been confirmed and we're reviewing whether or not we have the right policies and procedures, and we'll wait for EY to tell us what was great and what can be better or best in class," Saretsky said.

That report will be finished within a couple of months, he added, and the company will make it public.