to address harassment, bullying and discrimination

 with Stephen Hammond


Information which led to the #MeToo movement, let us know that many a Hollywood career was derailed or harmed when women tried to speak the truth to Harvey Weinstein’s sexual behaviour (regardless of criminal outcomes). He was so powerful in that industry that these women risked it all (or a lot) just by telling the truth about his behaviour.


Any workplace I’m involved in has nothing to do with movies, tv or entertainment in that industry. Still, in most workplaces, people find it difficult to stand up to someone in a position of power.


So what do you do when someone makes racist, sexist, homophobic or just plain inappropriate comments? What do you do when it's from a distinguished person? What do you do when you're caught off guard?


First, don't worry about being caught off guard. If words don't come to you immediately, collect your thoughts and find a way to say them later. If, however, someone else speaks up on the spot, support that person. You know what it took to say something.


Don't be afraid to return to the issue; it's never too late, even if what you wanted to say at the time comes to you in the middle of a meeting or a workplace gathering. If it's weighing on your mind, it's likely weighing on the minds of others.


Stick to the issue, and if the perpetrator wants to sidetrack the conversation by pointing out the bad habits of others, insist on sticking to this person's words that caused you to speak up.  Whatever you do, don't try to soft-pedal a situation when strong words are warranted. On the other hand, there's no need to lambaste a person who made an outrageous comment, but it's really important the person knows your workplace won't tolerate such comments.


Be prepared to stand alone. Because most employees are conflict averse, you may find others unwilling to join you. You'll have to decide if it's worth it for you.



1) Take on simple comments - before they become complex. Since most people who make inappropriate comments never or rarely get called on their actions, it's amazing what is accomplished just by speaking up in a very simple way. Don't wait for something to get bigger and therefore more difficult to handle.


2) Ask for assistance - It will be a sign of strength. Two heads and minds are much better than one.


3) Work on gradual change - if you need to. Sometimes it takes a while to get behavioural change. Don't give up. If it's right, it's right and in the long run you should win over most people. However, do keep in mind that if there is a violation of someone's rights and it takes a while to correct, the law applies today...not when you get around to correcting the problem. It might take a while, so get started sooner than later.

This is TIP #16 of 26 BI-WEEKLY TIPS for managers and supervisors. 
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