Why it’s time to talk about domestic violence at work. Plus, how to deal with pregnancy discrimination
Content from The Globe’s weekly Women and Work newsletter, part of The Globe’s Women’s Collective. Click to subscribe here.
Gender-based violence is something not often talked about in the workplace.
But with a third of women worldwide affected by gender-based violence and an increase in reported family and intimate partner abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s an issue that can’t be ignored, says Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
“We all know someone who has experienced gender-based violence at home,” says Ms. Senior. “They exist in our workplaces.”
Incidents of gender-based violence increased by up to 30 percent during Canada’s COVID-19 lockdowns, with racialized women disproportionately affected. Women’s organizations, women’s shelters and self-help groups received more calls for help at the height of the pandemic.
Perhaps the most profound impact is that victims have untreated trauma and are unable to fulfill their potential, says Sue Bookchin, executive director of Nova Scotia-based Be the Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending gender-based violence.
“The lost productivity is only part of the picture. Victims lose potential promotions. Think of the lost leadership of women [because of gender-based violence],” She says.
Read the full article to learn how employers can help.
Employee burnout is getting worse. Employers have work to do
Clio employees can take their dogs to work and have access to a flexible paid recreation program. Schneider Electric Canada employees can save their paid time off, which the company later supplements with paid time off. And Capital One gives its employees an “Invest in Yourself” day each month to do what fuels their souls.
These are just a few examples of what employers across Canada are doing to prevent employee burnout and help them manage their mental health.
Clio’s headquarters in Burnaby, BC features a yoga studio, play lounge, community gardens and libraries. In addition, the company provides each employee with $2,000 per year for consulting services and a monthly wellness allowance.
But the jewel in Clio’s wellness crown is its flexible paid time-off program, which launched this year. Rather than allocating vacation time by years of service, the law firm management software company allows flexibility at the discretion of employees.
Read the full article to learn more about how employers can prevent burnout.
Greater Toronto’s Top Employers 2023 are leaders in workplace innovation
As we look ahead, Greater Toronto’s Top Employers 2023 are leading the way in shaping the post-pandemic workplace.
While many initiatives are still in the pilot phase, the winners of this year’s competition – selected by Mediacorp Canada Inc. – have been quick to respond to employee feedback on how, when and where they want to work. It turns out that people are happy to work from home, at least part of the time, even if the kids are occasionally underfoot. As such, flexibility is a must for any business competing in GTA’s highly competitive talent market, with full-time, in-office, hybrid and remote options offered where possible to accommodate individual work-life balance needs will.
Usually it’s not the same old office. Many employers took advantage of the time during the pandemic to redesign their physical space, redesign it for collaboration and improve communication technologies so employees can seamlessly connect with others, wherever they chose to work from that day.
Read more about GTA’s top employers for 2022 and the perks that will convince employees.
In case you missed it
Do you need a career coach?
Bibigi Haile believes every woman needs a competitive edge as she climbs the corporate ladder.
“What got you here won’t get you there,” says Ms. Haile, a Montreal-based personal branding and communications consultant who works with women in senior management positions.
“Many women will keep their heads down, do a great job, and expect recognition and promotion to follow,” she adds. “But women sometimes need someone to hold up a mirror to them and help them see what they can achieve.”
Ms. Haile says she helps clients take ownership of their stories, overcome impostor syndrome and get noticed by the right people. It also helps them break down “mental barriers” that may be preventing them from fulfilling their potential.
“A lot of women – myself included – are afraid of something, and because we believe in fear, we don’t do the ‘thing,'” says Ms. Haile. “The message I want to send is – it’s okay to feel the fear, but keep yourself worthy of the fear and do the thing anyway. Take the risk.”
Read the full article.
Think you’re too nice to be an effective leader? Consider “Silent Guidance”
When Keka DasGupta was interviewed for one of her first public relations jobs, she received the dreaded request: “Describe yourself in one word.” Forgoing a standard power term, she went with her gut and said, “I’m nice .” It was a gamble—in the corporate world, kindness is often seen as a sign of weakness or a weakling.
Ms. DasGupta landed the job and her “niceness” served her well in the stressful PR industry, making a hectic role easier not only for herself but for the teams and producers she worked with.
Extroverts are generally celebrated and viewed as natural leaders, but Ms. DasGupta doesn’t believe in the labels “introvert” or “extrovert.” “We have moments of [being] one or the other, or us [may] identify as both under different circumstances,” she says.
Read more about the benefits of Quiet Leadership here.
Ask women and work
Question: Ever since I announced I was pregnant with my first child, I feel left out of planning future projects. I plan to take only 3-6 months off after having my child but my boss has repeatedly said ‘just wait’ and it seems they are all wrongly writing me off. How can I deal with this pregnancy discrimination?
We asked Samantha Seabrook, Toronto-based employment attorney and founder of Toronto Seabrook Labor Code (SWL) to put this one up:
I’m sorry you are experiencing this behavior as it sounds like your boss is projecting her thoughts about pregnancy and motherhood onto you.
The SWL team and I suggest you take the following steps to address this situation:
1. Make a list (with backup documents like emails, Slack messages, etc.) of projects or work that you were previously assigned to before you told the employer you were pregnant and from which you were dropped after the announcement became.
2. Meet with your boss to discuss your maternity and parental leave. I suggest that you have a defined schedule of when you will start maternity leave and when you plan to come back. Although you have every right to change this schedule later, for the purposes of this discussion, it is helpful to have a set time frame for your vacation.
3. At the meeting, present a list of projects you are currently barred from and able to participate in based on the scheduled timing of your leave of absence. Ask your boss to work with you on a plan for your current involvement in these projects and how you will continue the projects when you return from vacation.
4. Either during or immediately after the meeting with your boss, take notes and send them a follow-up email summarizing what was discussed and agreed to be recorded. Be sure to also keep a copy of this email for your records
If your boss declines to work with you on a plan, I suggest you go to Human Resources and have a candid conversation about how you’ve been banned from work since your pregnancy was announced, using examples and supporting documents .
I hope that by taking these steps, your employer will change their behavior. If not, you may have a case of violating human rights legislation for pregnancy discrimination. You have the right not to be passed over for employment opportunities and benefits because of your pregnancy. In addition, you are protected from retaliation if you raise a concern about discrimination or try to enforce your human rights in the workplace. I suggest that you consult an employment law attorney to understand your rights and the potential damages you may be entitled to.
Also think about the job you will return to when you return from your vacation. You have the right to return to the last job you had before the start of your maternity and/or parental leave, if that job no longer exists. When you return to work after your vacation, see if you are passed over for projects because you have a young baby, as this type of behavior by the employer could constitute marital status discrimination.
Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by emailing us at [email protected].
Interested in more perspectives on women in the workplace? All stories can be found on The Globe Women’s Collective hub hereand subscribe to the new Women and Work Newsletter here. Do you have feedback? Email us at [email protected].