By Heather Latter, Staff writer
(Fort Frances Times Ltd.)
(Fort Frances Times Ltd.)
Several members of local businesses and organizations were on hand at Boston Pizza here last Thursday morning as the Celebrating Diversity Committee launched its “Respect” campaign to the public.
The presentation, entitled “Six Steps to a More Respectful Community,” aimed to help initiate conversations about diversity amongst the participants.
“It’s all about raising people’s awareness of the issues around diversity and the importance of respecting difference,” explained committee chair Trudy McCormick.
“Creating a respectful community is everyone’s responsibility,” she stressed.
McCormick continued by offering the six steps developed so that people can be more respectful members of the community in which we live and work. She added respect matters because respect has a real impact.
“Respect makes people feel valued, and will bring customers and clients back again and again,” she reasoned.
“First impressions can make all the difference.”
McCormick said respect also enables open communication.
“Dealing with—and resolving—respect issues makes for a safer, healthier work environment,” she explained.
“And if you do it respectfully, it will make difficult discussion easier,” she added, noting how simply changing a word can change the impact.
For example, McCormick might say, “Boy, have I had a crazy day.” But the word “crazy” can be offensive to some people, so perhaps if she said, “Boy, have I had a chaotic day,” it might be more appropriate.
Respect also can have a legal impact since discrimination and bullying are explicitly included in Bill 168—The Workplace Violence and Harassment Law.
“Respect can help avoid potential lawsuits,” McCormick said.
Small group discussions also were held with participants last Thursday talking about times they felt respect and times they felt disrespected.
“And hopefully by having conversations about it, then when people are in a situation the next time, they’ll have some ideas of how to handle it better,” explained McCormick said, though acknowledging the definition of diversity is very broad as it includes gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, religion, people with disabilities, people with mental illness, race, age, etc.
The idea and basis for the “Respect” campaign came from a very successful project which Confederation College had started back in 2006.
“It started with the realization that something was needed to inform people, and educate people, about respect and everything that goes with it,” said Anne Renaud, manager of the local Confederation College campus, who also was on hand for Thursday’s public launch.
“A lot of people have done a lot work to get it to where it is and it’s nice to see it come to fruition,” she added.
“To see it expand beyond the doors of the college is just amazing.
“I really hope different businesses and organizations are going to take the opportunity to have the ‘Respect’ training and presentation done for their staff because I think it’s something everyone can use,” Renaud stressed.
“I thought the session could be useful to anyone with respect to both their personal and professional lives,” said Ashlee Grimard of the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre here, who also took in the “Respect” training.
“The six steps to respect outlined were very user-friendly and could be easily integrated into any organizations’ culture,” she noted.
“Overall, it was a great and a job well-done by the diversity committee.”
The one-hour presentation, offered up by volunteers, now is available at no cost to businesses and organizations across the district. Those who take the workshop will be provided with visible identifiers, such as lanyards and door signs, so anyone going into these organizations immediately will know they can expect to be treated with respect.
For more information about having the “Respect” workshop presented at your business or organization, call McCormick at 274-5327.