Pink Shirt Day was inspired by a 2007 incident in Nova Scotia where a Grade 9 boy was bullied for wearing a pink polo shirt on his first day of school. Other students rallied in support of the bullied student and the movement was born. David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied. They took a stand against bullying when they protested against the harassment of a new Grade 9 student by distributing pink T-shirts to all the boys in their school. Bullying is a serious problem in our schools, workplaces, and over the internet and unfortunately bullies don’t disappear after school…they become adults, enter the workplace and quite often continue to bully.
On June 15th 2010 Ontario introduced an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety act related to the prevention of workplace violence and harassment. Bill 168’s intentions were that “everyone should be able to work without fear of violence or harassment, in a safe and healthy workplace”.
So what is workplace bullying? Bullying can be a hidden action that is difficult to detect and often dismissed as “personality conflicts”, however a bully’s activity can range from behaviours such as public humiliation, personal insults, over monitoring with malicious intent, ignoring or excluding, withholding information, constant criticism, spreading rumours, gossips or innuendos etc.
Bullying increases stress levels in your workplace for the person being bullied, but also for the people witnessing the bullying who may not know how to deal with the actions going on or feel intimidated about sharing it with a superior. Although it may seem difficult to legislate “appropriate behaviour”, Bill 168 outlines requirements to have the best possible preventative measures in place, as well as the tools to manage when a situation does occur. Conducting an assessment of your workplace and determining where your operation might be vulnerable to acts of violence and harassment is the first step in making changes to your business practices, reporting and investigation procedures, so your employees understand what their obligations are when faced with workplace violence and harassment situations.
Encourage respect in the workplace and be sure to emphasize that bullying is a very serious matter that will not be tolerated. Bullying is not limited to the schoolyard. The February 29th Wear a Pink Shirt day is a great way to educate about bullying and outline the resources available for help, and also revisit your Bill 168 policy and ensure it is effective in your organization.
For more information on Pink Shirt Day visit their website at www.pinkshirtday.ca For help on ensuring your organization is Bill:168 compliant click here, or view Clear Path’s Bill:168 Do-It-Yourself Package.
Image courtesy of www.pinkshirtday.ca
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