As an Aboriginal woman harassment is something, I personally have to deal with all the time! I have put together this info-sheet so we can work through this worldwide issue hand-in-hand!
I’m not saying you will never be harassed again; I’m saying you will know how to react the next time it becomes relevant.
The problem is harassing behavior could be small acts or statements that people don’t even realize are offensive to others. A lot of the harassment is towards underrepresented people (women, indigenous people, people with disabilities, newcomers, etc.), but it really can happen to anyone.
So that’s why I’m here. I’m going to show you what harassment is and how you should properly deal with it!!
Harassment is a form of discrimination and is basically any unwanted physical or verbal behavior that offends, humiliates, or makes you feel uncomfortable (Canadian Human Rights Commission).
Harassment is often never reported because people do not know if it is harassment that they are experiencing, or they’re too scared to say anything.
Before we start, go through the facts first:
Is this an inappropriate environment?
(doesn’t really matter the environment but should be examined)
Who is this person to you?
Are they a boss, supervisor, work friend?
Was it directed to you personally?
Does it offend you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions above, then you are experiencing harassment, and this is what you should do next:
First let’s go through some things not to do! And don’t forget you are in your workplace and you always need to be professional.
Don’t yell in anger or act aggressively! This makes you seem out of control and not professional. If you are all steamed-up and angry, try taking a couple of deep breaths and walking away to avoid responding inappropriately.
Don’t just laugh about it! Because if you do that then it’s like saying “oh that was funny, please say something about it again.”
Don’t say nothing! Saying nothing gives the idea that you are ok with it, and worse, may make the person think it is ok to go on saying/doing harassing things to others.
You know what not to do, so let’s go through good ways to deal with this…
Shut down the behavior immediately with short and concise statements to educate against harassment in the workplace, some examples include:
“Do not whistle at me, that is harassment, and there are laws and a company policy against harassment” or
“Do not touch my butt, that is sexual harassment, and there are laws and a company policy against harassment”
“what you just said is offensive and is considered harassment! You better be careful; harassment is against the law and you can lose your job for it”
“dude?! giving me all the “easy” jobs is discrimination and sexism, you can lose your job for harassing people at work you know?”
“did you know that the ‘I-word’ is no different than using the ‘n-word’; you better stop using that here; it not only makes you sound like a bigot, it may be considered harassment, and for obvious reasons we have a policy against harassment”
Report criminal behavior directly to the police… if you have experienced violence, assault, and stalking …these are all crimes.
Keep a diary. Document everything that happens, including what you've done to try stopping it. This can help if you make a complaint.
Get support from someone you trust or contact support services. Even if you don’t know anyone you can talk to, there are support services which are immediately available to help and support you.
Speak to your immediate supervisor to make them aware; especially if ongoing. Yes, you may choose to deal with each case one-on-one in a professional manner, but careful; if you do not make management aware, how can we reduce systemic harassment in the workplace.
Harassment is a huge problem. It effects work production because people don’t want to go to work with this to fear.
I would really recommend adding a discussion of harassment issues to your safety meetings! And provide an available report (WorkSafeNB 2021)!
Let your peers know you are there to protect them!
Thank you for hearing me out! I hope that this small bit of information can really help someone in need!