Tag Archives: harassment

Sexual Harassment and Intersectionality

4 Nov

Thanks to Jian Ghomeshi, there has been a lot of talk over the past two weeks about sexual violence and sexual harassment.
It’s good that we are talking about it.

Yesterday I caught the tail end of an interview on CBC radio about sexual harassment in the workplace, and why women don’t come forward.

And I thought, what about intersectionality? Have we interviewed women who are not white, or who are lesbian, or who don’t have a post secondary education (for example) about their experiences of sexual harassment at work?

Intersectionality means that we have many identities that intersect and impact our experiences of discrimination or harassment. In a culture of silence (still), bringing a complaint of sexual harassment forward is already tough enough. Racism or homophobia or classism (for example) on top of this can add further layers of silence as people try to negotiate their safety and justice in a world that doesn’t want to see them for all that they are or what they contribute – which spills into how (and if) they are heard. Coming forward with a serious complaint against someone who likely has more social power than you – in more identities than gender – would require even more courage and fortitude.

I’d like to hear a discussion on the radio about that.

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Copyright 2014 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion


Respect in the Workplace

2 Nov

On Monday I delivered a Respect in the Workplace training. The objectives were to raise awareness about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, and what to do if you, or someone else, is being harassed or bullied at work.

What I have noticed in these sessions is that there are glaring examples of inappropriate behaviour that most of us can agree on, but that it is often difficult to understand that something we are doing, that wouldn’t bother us, can be causing someone else to feel uncomfortable.

In the world of acronyms, it is not surprising that there is one for this concept as well. My colleague Rhonda Hight introduced me to IBI – which sums up the reality and challenge of respectful workplaces and the Ontario Human Rights Code.


The bottom line is that regardless of our intent, it is the behaviour we choose – and its impact – that is taken into consideration in determining whether what we did is appropriate or inappropriate.

This can be challenging. What I see in workshops, is that while people may “get” that jokes or comments about race, culture, gender, sexual orientation etc are hurtful to those whom they target, it is often much more difficult to “get” that (for example) calling someone “sweetie” (or some other term of endearment), could be uncomfortable.

We may think that this last example is a shame – or too over the top – but that’s likely because we too think “sweetie” is a term of endearment. Perspective is everything. And in an increasingly diverse workforce we need to continuously find ways to learn about and appreciate the different perspectives of those we work with. So that we can all contribute to creating and sustaining respectful and safe workplaces.

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Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion


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