Women and Disrespect in the Workplace

by Elise Stevens | Futureproof Your Career Podcast

Disrespect in the workplace is easy to spot. It can start as snide comments, gossip or someone being excluded but can escalate into bullying and harassment. Victims, most often women, can be too intimidated to speak up and bystanders often think it’s none of their business. So how do we fix it?

In this podcast, Elise Stevens speaks to Paul Pelletier, an expert in workplace respect and diversity, about what’s making our workplaces war zones.

Paul’s consulting team provides awareness and prevention training, education, resolution, counselling and support for organisations that want to address disrespect in the workplace.

As a victim of a dysfunctional workplace environment himself, Paul knows first-hand what it can do to individuals and organisations. He’s combined his expertise and personal experience to write a book to help organisations eliminate workplace bullying, The Workplace Bullying Handbook: How to Identify, Prevent and Stop a Workplace Bully.

Here’s some of his tips on how women can deal with disrespect in the workplace.

Points raised in this podcast:

  • Women are often disproportionately victims of workplace disrespect. Women can find it hard to speak up and are more likely to want to be perceived as nice, and not ‘rock the boat’.
  • Modelling respectful behaviour can have a positive effect in the workplace. Try to set a positive example. As Michelle Obama said, “when they go low, we go high”.
  • It’s hard to change an entire workplace culture on your own so speak to other people in the organisation you trust. Sometimes women can feel isolated and like the disrespect is only happening to them, and this gives the offender more power.
  • Silence in the short term might work but silence in the long term can become unhealthy and make the situation worse.
  • If you choose to confront the person showing you disrespect you can follow Paul’s six steps. Be brief, informative, fair, firm, silent and then follow up. Try not to take emotion into these encounters.
  • Project managers can put workplace respect policies into their project and program charters.
  • Get educated. Know your legal rights and the options available to you.
  • Document all instances of disrespect in the workplace, as having a record can be useful if you choose to take action.
  • Know what you expect to gain before involving HR.
  • Consider mentoring, counselling and even legal advice to deal with persistent disrespectful behaviour.

About Paul Pelletier:

Paul Pelletier is a corporate attorney, project manager, speaker and author with more than 25 years’ experience in senior roles in government and industry. He’s an expert in workplace respect, diversity, bullying, leadership and ethics and uses his extensive background in team and project management to help organisations establish respectful workplace and diversity policies, training, programs and processes.

You can connect with Paul on LinkedIn