Bullying and harassment: REALTORS® are not immune

When you’re a school kid they call it bullying; when you’re an adult they call it harassment.  No matter what you call it, or how old you were when it happened, no doubt you know what it is.  Today, the FVREB is joining the national Pink Shirt Day movement to end it.

Most of us have witnessed or been the target of someone, whether at school or at work, who uses words and behaviour to humiliate, insult, intimidate, manipulate or isolate their victim target. Some of you reading this may have been that bully.

Harassment is a behaviour that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, threatens, isolates, or verbally abuses another person with malice intent. It is a form of aggression and yet the behaviours can also be subtle.

To counter this kind of behaviour and its corrosive effects, communities have adopted special days to build awareness about the issue, such as today’s ‘Pink Shirt Day’ which began years ago when some Nova Scotia teenage boys wanted to show support for a boy who was being bullied because of the way he dressed. The boys showed their solidarity by wearing pink shirts in support and in defiance of the bullies. Their gesture sparked a movement whose focus has been on youth. However, workplace bullying and harassment among the adult population is just as serious, and increasing in frequency in the US and Canada.

Bullying, or harassment—the latter being the legal aspect of this behaviour—is a social problem that impacts entire workplaces, schools and communities, and Realtors are not immune to the consequences.  In today’s world the problem extends to cyber bullying whereby social media provides a platform where bullies can unleash their malice behind a protective wall of distance and anonymity, with the digital device in hand to compose streams of poisonous posts.

A  Canadian government survey in 2017 conducted by the minister for Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, found that 60% of respondents experienced workplace harassment. Thirty percent said that they had been the target of sexual harassment, 21% that they had experienced violence at work.

When harassing behaviour occurs in a work environment, health, satisfaction, career success, productivity, corporate earnings, and reputations are all impacted.

Launched by our Professional Standards Special Committee (PSSC) the FVREB is joining in the move to confront workplace harassment, starting next week.

We will cover some of the key findings about workplace harassment; how it hurts individuals and organizations, and how Realtors can deal with it constructively in their own businesses.

More than anything we want you to engage in an open dialogue about workplace harassment so that we can learn more about your perspectives on what needs to change, and how we can help stop this behaviour from affecting you, your team, and your office.

Let’s get the conversation going. If you have experienced harassment in your practice, or have ideas about how it can be prevented, please share your story with us. Email: communications@fvreb.bc.ca