Harassment: `Intent’ vs. `Impact’ (1)

When it comes to workplace harassment, which is more important, `impact’ or `intent’?

Let’s define these terms: `impact’ refers to the ways in which a person (or persons) were negatively affected by the actions of another individual or group (`The Source’). `Intent’ describes The Source’s motive and intentions when initiating the action/s that offended or hurt the impacted person.

For example, imagine two employees engaging in a string of light-hearted `gay jokes’. These employees are considered to be `The Source”. Another employee who overhears this exchange approaches his manager claiming that this type of joking is offensive and creates an intimidating work environment. Another example: in the course of a summer conversation about sunbathing, a male manager asks an employee who reports to him to `show her tan lines’. This employee approaches HR with a harassment complaint.

Here’s the question for you to consider: in these and other situations, how much weight should the manager put on the impact of these behaviours on the receivers vs. the weight given to the Source’s intent?

I leave you to ponder this question. Stay tuned for the next blog to find out if you got it right!

Want to learn more? Have challenges to solve?  
Contact us now for your free, no-commitment consultation.

This entry was posted in Blog, Harassment, Respectful Workplace. Bookmark the permalink.


Access free learning tools, articles and other resources for you and your team.

REAL™ Solutions for Abrasive Leaders

Find out how you, as a senior executive or HR leader, can help restore the effectiveness of an abrasive leader.

Training Services

Discover how our training programs will energize and grow your people.

Organizational Solutions

Find out how we can help you with organizational development and initiatives.
Copyright © 2015 Bar-David Consulting. All Rights Reserved. Website by Geist Creative.