By Shaunna Cullen
New Britain community leaders recently gathered at YWCA’s Women’s Leadership Workshop- Beyond #MeToo & #TimesUp: What You Can Really Do To Create a Safe and Civil Workplace. The interactive workshop and discussion addressed sexual violence and harassment in the workplace and what organizational leaders can do to create a culture where people feel safe and supported.
Experts in these areas led the group in great discussions, solved problems, and guided individuals on how they can create change within their organization.
Laura Cordes, Executive Director of the CT Alliance to End Sexual Violence discussed the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, the continuum of sexual violence, and best practices and policies. She explained how sexual harassment and assault are forms of racism, sexism, ableism etc. and how marginalized communities face additional discrimination from systems that are supposed to help and protect them.
“Systemic response hasn’t had the strongest policies in addressing sexual violence,” said Laura. She noted that although a lot of organizations focus on reducing an individual’s risk of sexual assault, not much is done on actually preventing the behavior.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report that Laura presented to the group recommends providing training on workplace civility and bystander intervention as the most effective ways to prevent and address these types of behaviors when they start.
Laura says, “We must move beyond legal compliance [in regards to sexual harassment/assault policies]. It’s not enough. Our laws are not working when people are not reporting or are moving jobs [due to an incident].”
Karen Hinds, Emerging Leaders Expert of Workplace Success Group addressed incivility in the workplace with the group. She discussed everything from name calling, using profanity, put downs, micro-inequities, interrupting, and gossip as examples of incivility and suggested reasons for those actions.
Most importantly, Karen gave recommendations for how to address incivility and how to model civil behaviors that promote trust, respect, and dignity in the workplace. Some of these ideas include managing your emotions, understanding how your personality impacts others, and listening before speaking.
Joanna Flanagan, Prevention Educator and Amanda Carrington, Campus Advocate at YWCA Sexual Assault Crisis Services concluded the workshop with training on how to be an active bystander. Attendees learned how to use their voice, influence, and actions to become part of the solution. They also practiced bystander intervention techniques and a variety of useful tools to stop negative behaviors.
Workshop participant Amanda Nardiello, Director of Philanthropy & Volunteer Services at Hartford Health Care Central Region, said the workshop was a timely and interactive look at the current state of the workplace in the #MeToo and #TimesUp era.
“I left with tools to model behavior as a leader, to empower and validate my staff, as well as how to better personally navigate the current climate in the workplace,” said Amanda.
YWCA New Britain offers this event biannually and each workshop reflects current topics primarily affecting women in the workforce. Thanks to all for participating!