How to stage a bystander intervention
It's time to stop being passive and start intervening
To foster a culture of inclusion organisations need to encourage and train employees on how to stage a bystander intervention. This will greatly reduce bias and sexism in the workplace.
One of the most important elements for any organisation wanting to foster a culture of inclusion is to create awareness. Specifically, how we can all help reduce toxic workplace cultures by staging a bystander intervention. Many companies encourage it, but don’t actually tell people how to go about it. Research has indicated that women can be more reluctant to intervene with a bystander intervention for fear of repercussions to their job security. This is especially true if those involved are senior and male. A bystander intervention can be an initiative which is very much in the hands of male colleagues.
People in minority groups and women are regularly demeaned and harassed in the workplace. This happens on an ongoing basis, every day. These “cuts” serve to create toxic and non-inclusive workplaces. It leads to a reduction in employee engagement and ultimately higher levels of employee attrition. Employers need to give this priority because failure to do so will damage their employer brand. We are focusing now on issues requiring bystander intervention that are verbal or procedural rather than physical. Clearly if a person is in physical danger then an alarm should be sounded for support, as well as doing what is practical at the time.
Creating an inclusive culture begins when you are hiring people. Contact 3Plus for help with Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment.
One of the major steps is recognising that something inappropriate is actually taking place. Many of us are not mindful of negative incidents going on around us because they are so commonplace they have become embedded into our cultures becoming normalized. We simply fail to notice. Giving all employees unconscious bias training is a step in the right direction.
Two steps to stage a bystander intervention:
There are two opportunities to initiate a bystander intervention:
#1 At the time
It’s important to flag the issue up as one that is important to you, rather than on behalf of a potentially injured party. Otherwise you put the individual in the position of weakness again and cast them as a victim for the second time (re-victimization).
“Let’s keep the meeting professional and cut out inappropriate comments/ jokes etc. We should talk about this later.”
#2 Follow up
Speak to the party concerned and also someone senior. This might be an HR person or a manager. Specify your reasons for feeling uncomfortable or offended and suggest that some sort of policy be implemented.
- To a peer: “John, as your colleague when you make sexist comments in the office I feel extremely uncomfortable and would like you to stop. It creates a bad working atmosphere for the team and impacts our performance.”
- To a senior person: "We seem to accept inappropriate, sexist remarks in the department. They make me personally uncomfortable and create tension on the team. I have spoken to the individual(s) involved, but think we should have a transparent and public policy of zero tolerance. What can you do to support that initiative?"
The more we are all willing to initiate a bystander intervention, the greater the impact on the broader workplace culture. Sexism, bias and discrimination will be easier to manage and hopefully reduced. We are staring to see a demand for third-party accountability so it's in everyone's' interest to make sure that our workplaces are inclusive, safe and secure
Contact 3Plus now if the women in your company need support and advice from a senior woman. Our Mentoring Programmes can help.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
September 17th Latham Watkins Brussels 1200
In-house corporate event
Inclusive Leadership Workshop
September 20th EIGE Vilnius 0900
How to combat sexism in the workplace
Peer review of EU booklet authored by Dorothy Dalton
September 30th BD Foundation Webinar with Dorothy Dalton (online)
Topic: Leading with Emotional Intelligence
October 3rd JUMP Hub Brussels
Gender equality: how to build an attractive employer brand without falling into the trap of “gender washing”
Infrabel, rue de France, 9, 1070 Brusells
Open registration : http://jump.eu.com/hub-sessions/gender-equality-build-attractive-employer-brand-without-falling-trap-gender-washing/
October 15th NEHRA Event at AXA Brussels
Best Diversity and Inclusion Practices
October 22nd and 23rd Unleash Conference Paris
Open registration: https://unleashgroup.io
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Men opting out of mentoring women suggests that it is women who are at fault, rather than mens behaviours. This is a leadership failure that needs to be addressed.read more
The age-old debate around gender quotas still prickles feathers today, but have they gone too far? Or should we be stricter in implementing them?read more
Conscious inclusion means not just creating initiatives, but creating a culture where people can speak out and raise awareness of unacceptable behaviour.read more