Are you making a pink shirt promise?

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Anne Harvey | February 23rd, 2016

Feb 24, 2016 marked the two year anniversary of our Respectful Workplace program and No-bully line to encourage staff and physicians to seek help and report bullying in the workplace. Since then, over 1200 bullying concerns have been reported to the program (including formal complaints and requests for confidential support), helping create a respectful workplace climate for all of us. That’s over 1200 VCH staff and physicians who have found the courage to stand up to bullying to build a better workplace climate and together, we are making that happen.

We have educated our human resources advisors to mediate these disputes and most of the complaints have been resolved by clarifying behavioural expectations and asking for apologies. But, more serious breaches of the Respectful Workplace Policy have meant 82 employees and physicians have either received a letter of warning, been suspended, terminated, demoted or had their medical privileges revoked.

Celebrating team respect

We had a lot to celebrate this Pink Shirt Day – from the steps we have taken to eliminate bullying at VCH, to selling our own pink shirts to 3,000 staff in support of a respectful workplace – but most importantly, we celebrated Team Respect as defined by you and shown on this year’s VCH pink shirt.

We all work in different teams and support various groups but what we have in common is that we need a respectful team environment to achieve our goals and provide quality health care services. Literature shows that people perform better and are more positive and less stressed when they work in an environment where respect is a high priority. At Vancouver Coastal Health, that means (phrases taken from the winning team respect submissions):

  • “Creating an environment that is all inclusive”  – T15 – LBMT, VGH
  • “Recognizing others for their efforts” – VGH Neurosciences
  • “Creating a culture of appreciation through recognition”  – Pacific Spirit
  • “Treating each other with kindness and care” – Pacific Spirit, Central Intake
  •  “Showing kindness and consideration” – Pacific Spirit, Program Support
  •  “Valuing one another’s perspectives to achieve common goals” – Client Relations & Risk  Management
  • “Being aware of the impacts of our behaviour” – Learning Technologies
  •  “Listening to what others have to say” – Squamish Public Health
  • “The ability to empathize as a team” – Emergency Department, Powell River
  •  “Reaching out for help and communicating respectfully”  – Richmond Lions Manor
  •  “Addressing conflict by having the conversation” – Abbotsford Regional Hospital, Medical Image/Nuclear Medicine

This Pink Shirt Day, February 24, 2016, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on your behaviour and ask yourself, how will I contribute to a respectful team environment? Pick at least one statement above to focus on for the next year which you think will have the greatest impact in your work area. Let’s do our part in “being aware of the [potential] impacts of our behaviour.” Being disrespected can hurt even the most confident person, and the impact can reach far beyond the boundaries of the workplace.

Silence hides bullying

We have all experienced bullying and disruptive behaviour in one form or another. It’s how we deal with it that’s different and within our control. If you have experienced or witnessed disruptive behaviour or are unsure whether the behaviour you are experiencing is bullying, I encourage you to speak to your Manager/Supervisor/HR Advisor or call VCH’s No-bully line at 1-844-NO BULLY (662 8559) and speak to a trained Employee Engagement Associate who can help you identify bullying, and provide confidential advice on how to deal with it. VCH also offers a ‘How to Deal with Bullying, Harassment & Conflict in the Workplace’ course through CCRS and ‘Respectful Workplace – VCH (online)’ education for tips and tools to resolve common workplace issues.

Thank you

I am so proud of the many engaged teams who have come together to take a stand against bullying this Pink Shirt Day by participating in team contests and t-shirt sales, and proudly wearing your VCH pink shirts in support of Team Respect. You are not only setting an example within your team, but for other workplaces that are now seeing VCH as a leader in this field.

What do you think?

How has this year’s Pink Shirt Day campaign encouraged a culture of respect within your team? What changes have you seen in your work area since VCH introduced its Respectful Workplace program in 2014? Post your comments below.

About the Author

Anne Harvey
email iconanne.harvey@vch.ca  

Anne Harvey is the Vice President of Employee Engagement at Vancouver Coastal Health. Driving best practice for patients and employees, Anne leads a team that includes employee relations, workplace health, lean transformation, recruitment, compensation/classification, management talent acquisition, clinical education, management development, and staff scheduling and timekeeping. Anne joined the organization in 2005 from her role as Chief Operating Officer of the BC Nurses Union. Anne’s qualifications include a master’s degree in Organizational Design and Development from the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara California and a bachelor of honours in Sociology with a major in Modern Industrial Societies from Manchester Polytechnic.

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4 comments on “Are you making a pink shirt promise?

  • Paul Johnson says:

    I generally decline to wear a pink shirt for these occasions preferrign to actively demonstrate my anti-bullying stance ALL the time…not just during these campaigns.

    What’s most amusing is the midly redundant nature of the campaign when one sees the number of people who might be considered bullies are some of the people most prominently wearign a pick shirt. Wolves in sheeps clothing…or as is sometimes the case, the bully doesn’t even recognize that they are one.

    However, there are definitely the self-aware Sociopathic bullies, some of whom I have encountered among management (not my current manager who is one of the best I have worked for in the world) who are indifferent to and dissociated enough for a Pink Shirt campaign to not even regirter with them as an issue worth knowing about…the bullying carries on.

    I di think the best defence and best way to deal with bullying is open dialogue, confronting the bully and reporting it. Victims of bullying are not alone. Bullying is a very hurtful, negative, insidious feature of working with Nurses and should nto be tolerated.

  • Jas says:

    A recommendation.. Annual survey on bullying and to evaulate the effectivness of the Restpectful Workplace policy may assist the Program.

  • guillermo bright says:

    Not a bad idea but…….
    Do we really need to buy thousands of pink t-shirts everyyear?
    Is Honduras The best place to source these? Thinking sweat shop workers are providing us with our anti bulling tshirts . Plus the t-shirts are not ORGANIC which means cancer causing Glycophosphate.
    What we did here was to MAKE our own pink thing,for us it was bow ties.
    Going forward I would like to see no more sweat shop /non Organic t-shirts . But rather use our own talent to come up with something reused or recycled l.

  • Dawn says:

    Kudos to those who felt safe enough to seek support around their being bullied at work. I recently left a job after looking for work for many, many months due to feeling totally bullied and completely ignored by my program manager but never felt safe enough to make a formal complaint for fear of losing my position. This is a person who has a whole lot of power over my career and thus, my future and who has brought me to a number of AWP meetings, not to ‘Support’ me, but to shake her finger at me, with ferver I may add. So, not everyone feels SAFE making these complaints about the bullying they are recieving in their workplace. I can tell you I am already happier at my new location. I don’t wake up with MAJOR anxiety every morning…and that’s a good thing!

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