June 17th, 2024

Initiative launched toward harassment-free workplaces

By Dale Woodard on September 3, 2021.

An Alberta agency has launched a ground-breaking initiative to help create sexual harassment-free workspaces.
A new campaign, #momentsmatter – led by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services in partnership with Justice Canada – focuses on what may be the missing link, workplace culture.
An Alberta-wide, three-year campaign called #momentsmatter celebrates workplace cultures that promote psychological safety, success and career growth and an effective response to sexual harassment. 
“It’s critically important,” said Kristine Cassie, chief executive officer CEO of the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre, of the #momentsmatter initiative. “Especially in a time where we’re all being integrated back into a work environment, post-COVID. Having a healthy work environment gives us a better product at the end of the day. It increases productivity and it makes people want to invest in the agencies they’re working with. It’s an investment for economic recovery and an investment for the future and growing people into positions and into fields we need them in.”
Young people starting in the field of work feeling safe and welcome in their work place is also important, said Cassie.
“We spend a lot of time talking about mental health in the work place and safety in the work place and this is part of that, to have a harassment free zone that is going to be compassionate and supportive.”
Cassie said it’s never too late to work on workplace culture to be positive and there are little things people can do, adding the #momentsmatter initiative helps to highlight things that can be done in the workplace to not only make it safe for people to talk and address issues, but for them to know they’re being valued and that it takes everyone to make an agency run. 
“It doesn’t matter what position you hold. We need everyone to do their job and to do it well. So we need to appreciate who we have with us. It’s really about celebrating the leaders, both those who are in those paid leadership positions and those who are the natural leaders among us, to really carry forward those positive messages and creating that space where people are safe.”
Whereas traditional sexual harassment awareness initiatives focus on forbidden behaviors, #momentsmatter uses positive modelling to motivate ‘copycat’ behavior. “We know traditional work place sexual harassment training doesn’t always connect with people,” said Cassie. “A lot of agencies will say they have a policy on this. We know occupational health and safety and human rights legislation have some pretty strong policies that people should have within their work policies. We don’t see people necessarily reporting when there are issues happening, yet we know through studies that there is quite a bit of sexual harassment, or other forms of harassment happening at work. 
“So how do we flip that to make it something people connect with and to really highlight all of this that is happening? If we can have positive workplaces, obviously we have less issues around litigation later, we have less issues of staff actually leaving the workplace because they’re dissatisfied with how they’re being treated. It’s less cost for people to invest in training of their workers coming in and it just goes on from there. So it makes good economic sense, but it makes really good sense on how we’re going to grow our future as well.”
Agencies looking to join the #momentsmatter movement can visit http://www.momentsmatter.info to link up to find out more about the campaign, its values and how they can participate.
Cassie said there is training that is nearly developed and is almost ready to roll out. 
“These are services we can take out to agencies soon. Right now, we just want to get agencies signed up to say they’re going to make a committed effort to have that safe workplace where they are going to make #momentsmatter and to share what they’ve been doing. There’s a whole campaign where you can actually share and say ‘This is what mattered to me when someone at work did this for me’ or ‘This is what helped me through this time at work.'”
#momentsmatter is a three-year investment needed to get the curriculum and get things moving, said Cassie.
“We’re hoping this movement never actually ends and that it’s something that goes on, much like the #IBelieveYou campaign, we want people to continue to protect and defend employees and to help employees grow and to show employees they matter in the workplace, (and) that we can all take (action) in preventing and addressing sexual harassment.”
Cassie said those in need of services can contact the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre at (403) 694-1094 or contact them on social media at @CSACLeth on Twitter and at https://www.facebook.com/CSACLeth/
“Any form of sexual harassment or sexual assault or abuse is something we certainly deal with,” she said.

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