In honour of International Women’s Day, speaker Chitra Anand discusses how both men and women can be empowered in the workplace, specifically when it comes to power imbalance and dealing with tricky situations of direct and indirect abuse. She questions what organizations can do to empower and support people when they are abused by power while still preserving a collegial spirit in the workplace. In a proposed #forcethedialogue, Anand encourages strict rules on what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour.
Here are some guiding principles on how she believes organizations can help counter abuse of power in the workplace:
1. Companies need to clearly identify what kinds of behaviours are and are not acceptable in the workplace. For example, can two people date if they are in the same department or is that a conflict of interest? Can a superior date a subordinate? We spend a lot of time at work and this is going to happen, so what are the parameters around this?
2. If someone is a victim of harassment or bullying, where are their support systems from within to effectively manage it? In my case, I had to figure it out on my own and hoped that I would find an ear as I very delicately broached the topic.
3. Have direct conversations. If someone has said something to offend you or you believe is inappropriate, tell them directly. We spend much time talking about what someone did; how they made you feel. Let’s tell them. Sometimes people may not realize or they may have said inadvertently made an unwelcome comment: #forcethedialogue and address it head on.
Chitra Anand is at the forefront of an important new movement in the workplace: intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurs are the people within your organization who possess an entrepreneurial spirit — driving innovation, creative thinking, and new ideas. As the former head of PR for Microsoft Canada, Anand has been an intrapreneur for her entire career and her talks focus on this shift in thinking in the workplace as well as innovation, and marketing. Anand has been named as a “bridge builder” for women in tech by the A-list, a yearly publication that features 50 prominent Indo-Canadians who have helped foster relations between Canada and India.