Creating Non-Toxic Trades : How-To Confront Offensive Talk
If our built environment is to be part of the climate solution, it stands to reason that the communities that create and erect these buildings must also adapt and become more resilient than ever.
Taking into account not only the environment and economy but also the social equity factor of our work, many triple bottom line companies have already helped create some of these new frameworks that will be necessary as we navigate a time of heightened division and climate emergency.
To bolster our ability to take action as a group, this presentation aims to strengthen our community by fostering a culture of allyship and bystander action. In particular, we propose practicing how to recognize and respond to offensive talk on our job sites.
Many of us have been there. We’ve heard an uncomfortable comment, an inappropriate joke, an unsolicited remark. Many times, and for so many different reasons, we’ve struggled to know how to respond. Either for fear of making things awkward, of attracting negative attention ourselves or of getting in trouble, we’ve said nothing. So let’s practice saying it out loud!
This workshop is simple, we will present and practice concrete examples of how to respond to 4 different scenarios where participants are prepped to :
a. Stop an offensive remark before it happens
b. Respond indirectly
c. Respond directly, and
d. If an offensive remark is repeated, how to ask nicely for what you want (and don’t want).
Using the response examples set out in Kate Stephenson and Mel Baiser’s 2016 Breaking Down Gender Bias, Tool Kit for Construction Business Owners, no offensive talk will be used in prompts, the focus being on allyship and bystander action only.
A single sentence in response to offensive talk may seem a small action, but it contributes in its own way to disrupting existing patterns of toxicity and by bolstering the transformative movement we need right now.
Relevance: We need everyone’s hands in more than ever. But inviting all hands in is only possible when the spaces we invite them into are safe. We need to practice creating job site spaces that are safe and where people stand up for those around them who may not benefit from the same privileges they do.
Annie Murphy is a builder and educator based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Annie’s interest in building was sparked after spending a winter in a beautiful but frigid stone house in Ottawa, Ontario. After studying sustainable building through the Endeavour Centre in Ontario, Canada, she has gone on to work for design-build companies from Ontario to the East Coast of Canada where she now resides. From natural, green and high-efficiency projects, she has developed a skill set specific to the demands of sustainable building in a northern climate.
Her passion for education has lead her to direct and instruct both the Endeavour Centre’s Natural Building Intensive and YM Design Build School’s Natural Building Certificate, where she teaches construction skills with an emphasis on sustainability, social justice, and a healthy dose of humor too!