Policing in the Era of #metoo

The spotlight on the damaging effects of sexual harassment in the workplace has never been more glaring. And although sexual harassment impacts both men and women, women in male dominated professions, such as policing, must often work to prove that they are “competent” and able to perform the duties of the job. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) defines sexual harassment as “engaging in a course of vexatious[8] comment or conduct that is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome.”

According to the Guide for Guide for Gender Diversity in Employment, a project of the Atlantic Ministers Responsible for the Status of Women in Canada, some of the challenges faced by female employees in the workplace include:

  • structural barriers: hiring and promotions systems
  • workplace culture
  • sexism regarding women’s work
  • lack of mentors/role models for women
  • lack of support for career development
  • negative attitudes/lack of awareness
  • access issues
  • familial obligations
  • economic disadvantage

Stay tuned for upcoming posts where we will look at each at each barrier in more detail and discuss strategies for how to make policing more equitable for female officers. We want to hear from you. How can police services organizations support female officers who are the victims of sexual harassment?

Dr. Anita Jack-Davies, Program Founder

As a Workplace Diversity Consultant I often work with clients in charge of DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion). I was moved to develop the Badges2Bridges program after working with Alan. Alan was a new Staff Sergeant in charge of a new DEI unit at his police service. When we first met to talk about how I might support his work, I could tell that he was not only nervous about his new role, but unsure about this new world of cross-cultural understanding that I was asking him to know. Keeping Alan in mind, I set out to create a program that he, and other officers like him, could use as a resource as they develop and implement DEI measures for their organizations. Alan was trained as a police officer. The DEI sector was new to him. He wanted to do well, even though he knew that he was embarking on training in a new sphere that took him out of his comfort zone. Alan and I worked together on a few DEI projects over a two year timeframe. With each project, I learned from Alan in the same way that he learned from me. I watched as his confidence and commitment to DEI measures increased. Eventually, Alan was promoted because it was clear that his commitment to DEI issues extended far beyond his role. Looking back on his growth, I realized that other officers and leaders also need support in their DEI efforts. It is my hope that they will turn to Badges2Bridges as a training resource that will supplement what they already receive at the police college and in their annual training.

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