Canadian Security Magazine

The mirror: Where respectful workplaces begin

By Kae Roberts   

Features Opinion

Each year, Ontario, as do other provinces, recognizes a “Day of Mourning” for those who were killed, injured or became ill due to workplace conditions. This year, in her statement to the Provincial Legislature on this matter, Ontario Labour Minister, the Honorable Linda Jeffrey states, “no one should fear that when they leave for work in the morning they may not return at the end of the day safe and sound.”

I appreciate that the context for this statement is with the issue of unsafe and or hazardous conditions that compromise the worker’s physical safety. That got me to thinking. Provincial Occupational Health and Safety Acts in many provinces have legislated businesses to address the issue of workplace violence and harassment. I do wonder if the legislators, employers and workers have considered that these two issues are a daily health and safety concern for many in their workplaces.

Experiencing ongoing harassing behaviour in the workplace is to endure an emotional and psychological injury/trauma. Though there are no visible wounds or injury, health and safety is being compromised. When left unattended, it is akin to a wound being re-opened day after day after day as the embattled worker steps back into the real time hazard. It begs the question, “Why aren’t we doing more to help eliminate this pervasive issue once and for all? If this resonates with you or your workplace, here’s what it will take.   

We must hold an unflinching belief that a workplace can be one where respect and dignity of the human being is never compromised. That belief is viable when we acknowledge the reality that the workplace population cannot become respectful at the level of the collective until it has become that at an individual level first. Our respectful workplaces originate from within each of us. It does not serve us to look to the CEO, president, chief or managers to make the workplace respectful. That’s where we go after an issue has happened.

I am driven by the belief that eliminating workplace harassment is possible; that’s why I write and teach about it. An ongoing experience of harassment of any kind makes for a long, painful, and persistent injury. The greatest day will be when workplaces no longer need my services and such injuries are a thing of the past.

Kae Roberts is founder and president of Awakening Wave Organizational Evolution.

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