Author Archives: Jennifer Chandler

Open Letter to 2018

Open Letter to 2018

Hello 2018,

I have welcomed you with my usual childlike curiosity and gratitude for yet another year on this beautiful earth but as I write this I can’t help but feel a little wistful for the year that just passed. Not to sound too dramatic but I sense there are things I will dearly miss about 2017- maybe for a lifetime. Still I’m glad to feast my eyes on these first few days.

I’m sure you will bring forth opportunities to challenge my beliefs about self, others and the world. I know you will allow for experiences that bring immense joy but I also realize that sadness and anger will also reveal their purpose too.

It would be nice to know that sprinkled amongst the mundane tasks that will make up many of my weeks, you will ensure I come out of the haze to pay attention to nature. You see, I don’t want to take that for granted.

For example, the other day I listened as the snow patted down on the ground after falling from trees. I heard the call of a Flicker, watched the sun begin to set over the ocean, and gazed at deer foraging in patches of woodland before darkness fell. It would be greatly appreciated if I could have more days like that.

My friends and family are important to me. It would be presumptuous of me to assume everything will stay the same, so with whatever you hold in store please make sure I’m reminded often to tell them how much I love them.

Without a doubt you, 2018, will have me meet strangers that will impact my life in more ways than I could have imagined. I also know I will support my clients and colleagues and learn greatly from each one. I thank you for that.

I do hope that you will reveal more ways for us (the world) to come together rather than be so divisive. Maybe someone, or an idea, will be born this year that will help tremendously towards that goal.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m open to what you have in store because I know everything I have done so far has led me to be ready for 2018 – and I’m not alone.

 

 

 

 

The Rise of Hate

The Rise of Hate

Hate tweets, hate speech, hate videos, hate vlogs and blogs, Hate appears to be on the rise.

Haters see themselves as only being honest or sticking it to politically correct losers, and they’re proudly displaying their middle finger in defiance. Having a strong opinion doesn’t make a person a Hater but how they consistently deliver their opinion can.

Haters feel powerful as their tribe grows stronger. Laughing amongst themselves and rolling their eyes about things like harassment, violence and the suffering of others. They are not supportive of campaigns by marginalized groups who dream of better treatment. They blame Feminism, immigrants, other countries, news outlets, and a plethora of individuals for everything they can possibly think of.

They have created divisions between allies, community, friends, family and even life partners as they become accustomed to treating others poorly. These people have forgotten how to be kind except when they are patting the back of, or shaking hands with, their own hate club members. They feel energized after writing or vocalizing their worst possible thoughts which says more about who they are than about those they target. Issues can’t be debated without insult or dismissive statements, and they take no responsibility for their behaviour.

Haters come from all walks of life but one commonality is the need to belong and be heard – they long to be relevant. On Twitter – a haven for Haters – you will see Actors finding a new audience for outrageously angry rants. Comedians who trade humour for cruelty, so-called Leaders being bullies, and so many others who have found a way to dispense often meaningless drivel. (And let’s not forget Armchair Politicians)

Their message, “You Are Not OK but I am! We are!” A mantra every narcissist, hate group or aggressor identifies with.

Haters don’t tend to sit down or connect in any way with the people they rant about. They expend little to no effort to learn more about a person or group in order to find some common ground. (Which is possible) They are content to be hostile. Slowly these people, who once may have had some compassion or common sense, get eaten alive by negativity without ever knowing they were prey.

It is entirely possible that they have low self-worth; even if they want to tell people otherwise. They can’t be fine in the mind because hate kills happiness, love, empathy and cooperation. Look into the eyes of someone who leads with love, practices tolerance and has a true interest in others. Now look at the eyes of someone who is disgusted by another person, cruel, impatient and disinterested. Eyes are the windows to our soul.

We can learn from someone who has keenly considered the impact of their words and whose intention is to do right by others as opposed to the person whose intent is to crush them. It doesn’t take intelligence to put together a few characters to curse, or demean another person using infantile speech, but it can irrevocably change things.

Historically, we have seen how fear can grow, and that fear became uncontrolled anger and that anger boiled up to hate. Such feelings rose up to cause division between people who were once neighbours and friends. It began with a statement against a person,people or belief, then moved onto propaganda that was written and distributed. The manufacturing of hate produced large quantities of rumour and suspicion which then culminated into civil unrest. People’s actions or feelings seemed innocuous at first but HATE always acts as a catalyst for war in one form or another. 

A Tribute to Cst. John Davidson

A Tribute to Cst. John Davidson

On a rainy day in Abbotsford, British Columbia the landscape of ordinary streets changed into a sea of uniforms, flags and citizens. They came from all over Canada, Scotland, England and the United States to pay tribute to a fallen officer, Cst. John Davidson of The Abbotsford Police Department.

As my friend (who knew of him through her daughter) and I walked towards the centre in which his Celebration of Life ceremony would be held I was struck by the amount of people, the security presence, the sounds of air traffic but little to no talking. There were no cell phones ringing, no laughter, no children at play or any of the usual noises that permeate our neighbourhoods; just the sound of boots walking.

The main centre was reserved for “blue bands” which was all police and emergency personnel. A centre, a short distance away, would hold the overflow of people who wanted to attend and watch the proceedings on large screens. We sat in quiet contemplation, stood when asked to stand and when guided towards moments of silence it was as if we were one mind.

Scrunched up in so many hands were tissues ready to meet the eyes and cheeks that carried tears for someone we’ve never met. For those that did know Cst. Davidson it was particularly hard to fight back emotions as they spoke about their beloved friend, colleague, husband, father, brother and uncle. His life played out to us through stories, pictures and video. We understood that he would not at all expect or enjoy the focus that was being placed on him but people like John Davidson – who selfishly give – don’t understand our need to give back.

When the service was over we walked towards the final procession area. For miles again a sea of officers, first responders and civilians stood along a street, in the cold, with rain pelting down upon already soaked uniforms -all of us ready to say our final “Goodbye and Thank you.” The gun salute rang out to momentarily end the silence and then the police motorcycles rumbled passed. With lights flashing and cars approaching the shout signifying to stand at attention was next and as the car carrying the body of Cst. John Davidson, and the cars for his family passed by, arms raised in salute.

When I got home I shared the experience with my husband. I showered to try to get rid of the bitter cold that ate through my clothes to my bones. My mind stuck in time, November 19, 2017. Later that evening as I laid down in my bed I couldn’t help but think, as my husband arrived next to me, that at least we have this moment again. My mind wandered to Cst. John Davidson’s wife who now faces long nights in a bed without her love. I think of his siblings and mother along with his children who must rely on their memory for pearls of wisdom and the essence of who he was. I know all of this well, having experienced at the age of nine what it’s like to hear my mother cry herself to sleep after my fathers sudden death. I know the emptiness of a house that was once a home because of the absence of someone so loved. But this isn’t about me.

It’s about a brave man who chose a career that is both dangerous and rewarding. It is about a man who loved nature, physical fitness and who pushed himself and others to be the best they could be. He believed in the power of people to change and had a way about him that even those receiving a ticket would shake his hand. He had no tolerance for drunk drivers. He helped youth to reject drugs that were taking them out one by one and cycled to raise money for cancer. He had a sense of humour and so much more that made John Davidson a soul that will be missed.

Thank you to the family for allowing us to mourn with you in such a public way. Know that when you think there is nobody remembering you or him, you are wrong – I am. (And I suspect many others beyond your police family will be too)

Coverage of Tribute

Remembering Our Veterans

For the first time in my life I was not in Canada for Remembrance Day. My husband and I, plus a couple of our friends, were away in the United States. During our trip we proudly wore our poppies and this morning – before heading back home – we sat for a moment of silence at the 11th hour. I’m not sure that everyone who passed us by in the lobby of the hotel knew what we were doing but we didn’t mind. Quietly in front of the fire we sat and paid respect to our veterans.

I have to say I missed watching the ceremony and so I’m not sure in the future I would be away for this day. I also couldn’t help but think about the death of a police officer in Abbotsford BC, Constable John Davidson who died in the line of duty only days ago. So many brave people for generations have put their lives on the line for us and I remain eternally grateful for one and all.

Job Interview Power Song?

Job Interview Power Song?

My job interview preparation list:

  1. Extra copies of my resume
  2. Contacted my references and made the list
  3. Researched the organization thoroughly
  4. Practiced interview questions with confidence
  5. Prepared additional information package including portfolio and updated online profiles
  6. Scanned my social media presence
  7. Planned transportation and schedule so as to arrive on time at interview
  8. Picked out my best professional clothes
  9. Got my hair cut and looking polished
  10. Tee up my Power Song!

Yup, that’s what I wrote, a song can be part of your job interview preparation. If there is one thing that can help lessen the nerves, get us in touch with who we are, makes us feel strong or happy, it’s a song.

Music is such a great equalizer and certainly therapeutic on so many levels so my advice to clients is to tap into that place of joy and strength through a song that has personal meaning.

Listen to it as you get ready to go to the interview. Put the ear buds in those ears while you sit on the bus or crank it up in the car ride to the interview. Just fill your soul with the song and walk into that interview pumped and ready!

Don’t go there only to sit in the waiting area solemnly practicing questions in your head or visualizing everything that could go wrong. I say, keep the power song in mind and know that you have this.

Now that you are psyched up… It is time to share your accomplishments, tell the story about how you can help this business, be interested and interesting and above all else be you with a smile ready to greet whomever you come in contact with.

Do you have a power song?

I have a few songs that build up my self-esteem but the following song by Elton John called Philadelphia Freedom always gets me going.

How do we stop sexual harassment?

How do we stop sexual harassment?

Like many women, I too have experienced inappropriate sexual comments and “jokes” in the workplace. My first introduction to workplace sexual harassment happened when I was in my early twenties. I was excited about a new job that paid better than my last and gave me more responsibility.  I desperately wanted the position because I was living on my own and it might give me a chance at a better life.

It wasn’t long after I arrived that I was schooled about the uncomfortable treatment of female staff. I was told who to watch out for and given lessons on “the way things work around here.”  There were examples of back stabbing and strategic alliances within the office but nothing was as bad as the way some of the men treated women and the double standard within the organization.

Many of the uncomfortable looks, sexual innuendo and comments would come right after the guys would get back from their very extended lunch breaks at the strip bar down the street. (Female staff were chastised if they were even 10 minutes late from breaks) I hated taking anything to the desks of these guys after they returned back from lunch because I knew the stupid banter would be more ramped up than usual. The face of one co-worker is still in my memory as he was particularly gross and often cruel – especially if you didn’t smile and laugh at his comments.

Efforts by some long-time female staff members to talk with management about their male coworkers’ behaviour failed to change anything and my attempts to do the same got me on the bad list too. It was clear that this place had a lot of problems so eventually I quit.

How do we stop sexual harassment?

Establish Policies

Establishing policies is a necessity but policies aren’t enough. Most companies have codes of ethics and anti-harassment policies that are only strong if they are followed. Directing employee complaints to Management or a Human Resources Department can also be helpful as long as they’re not part of the problem.

Educate Staff

Some companies bring in educators to teach staff and management about sexual harassment. Facilitating workshops on civil communication, respect and empathy can work because not everyone has developed those skills or been given those tools early in life.

Contact Outside Agencies For Support

If talking with the harasser, management or supervisor hasn’t worked then consider registering complaints with Human Rights Commission, Union Representative,  Call Dial-A-Law for legal information or phone an Employment Lawyer directly. Reaching out to law enforcement agencies may be necessary depending on the severity of incidences.

Teach Your Children A Better Way

We have the possibility of changing all of this by teaching children about respect for self and others.

I also think it’s important for us to analyze how boys are introduced to women and sexuality. This can shape their understanding of who girls/women are, how they wish to be treated and appropriate language when speaking with and about girls/women.  Reinforcing positive and respectful behaviours now can change a generation.

Boys and men need to care about this issue just as much as women. Understand, identify and call it out when they see sexual harassment

Girls need to learn about the pivotal role the word “NO” will play in their life. Gavin De Becker said it best in his book The Gift of Fear – Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence, when he wrote, “No” is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear is trying to control you. Harassers look for weakness and ways to control.

Building self-esteem and committing without apology to values is a solid step forward for girls. Above all girls and women can be assertive AND know that being a victim of sexual harassment is not their fault.

Back in my twenties I felt compelled to put up with so much because I needed a job and I’d been conditioned to believe this treatment was normal. I eventually developed my voice and began to flex my assertiveness (and occasional aggressive) muscle. It hasn’t always been easy but knowledge has become power.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN DO TO PREVENT OR STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

Weinstein and Common Traits of a Sexual Harasser

Weinstein and Common Traits of a Sexual Harasser

How people respond to sexual harassment is a true test of their understanding of what it is and its impact. How people have and will respond to Harvey Weinstein’s story is a testimony to their own integrity. —————–

According to the BC Human Rights Clinic, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace can be defined by the following key elements:

  1. Conduct of a sexual nature which is gender based,
  2. Conduct that is unwelcome, and
  3. Conduct that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job- related consequences.

Note, while women typically experience sexual harassment more often than men, sexual harassment can and does happen to men.  It can also occur between two people of the same-sex. 

As we wade through the media storm that surrounds Mr. Weinstein it becomes apparent that there were many victims and many non-innocent bystanders. If we set aside the finger-pointing that is happening right now it might be prudent to explore some of the common traits, beliefs and behaviours of a sexual harassers. I’m no expert but there does seem to be some commonality…

The Harasser has:

  1. A Skewed Perception

Their fantasy world has taken over reality and hijacked any sensibility that others may possess. Their desire plus the need for emotional and physical control over another person is so intoxicating that they are drawn to more experiences. Their perception of conversations and events can be radically different from the recollections of victims but that doesn’t mean they are delusional. They still have the ability to observe their behaviours even if they don’t want to fully acknowledge their conduct.

  1. Access to Power

Though sexual harassment can be perpetrated by anyone, at any time, it is particularly difficult when the person is in a position of power. Whether they be an Owner, CEO, Manager or Supervisor, if the individual has the ability to decide the fate of someone’s life/job there is added pressure on the victim to evaluate the situation and choose next moves very carefully. When someone knows they can, “grab’em by the pussy”, grope a breast, steal a kiss or aggressively ask for sexual favours – simply because of their position of power – then they cease to be a competent, respected member of the business team, let alone a respectful member of society.

  1. Felt Justified

Women deserve it. Despite gender evolution there are people who have failed to develop, preferring to stay entrenched in outdated thinking. There’s also an ever-increasing production of material  that will ensure men still believe that women like abuse, are weak but sexually driven and should acquiesce to the wishes of males. These men feel justified in their actions against women and when confronted they demand that others just “get over it.” In their minds women are objects and obstacles not persons. Because of that perception it is difficult to open their mind and change the story, it’s all they know.

  1. A Lack of Consequences

How many years can go by before a man like Weinstein – who committed harassment, intimidation, and assault – would be held accountable? Apparently, more years than most of us imagined. Multiple people and agencies turned a blind eye or yielded under pressure in order to protect themselves and a man who didn’t deserve an ounce of loyalty or respect. Like all predators he positioned himself (no pun intended) like a fox in a hens cage. He found ways to mask his crimes by supporting causes and individuals that make him appear to be something he’s not – a classic distraction from his truth.

Where does that leave us?

The impact of sexual harassment in the workplace is buried in a toxic soup of abuse, lies, cover-ups, resentment, anger and hurt. Good employees leave while other employees, who are willing to comply or tough it out, work in conflict and suspicion. Nobody is safe in a work culture that rewards bad or criminal behaviour. To sell your soul to the devil in business is easier for some than others but make no mistake a soul is damaged.

Our only hope of changing the tide of harassment is to start with ourselves and our children. In my next blog post I want to open up a larger discussion and hear from others about what we can do to reduce the incidences of sexual harassment.

 

Employers – Hire Mums!

Employers – Hire Mums!

Why do some employers make it so difficult for mothers to return to work?

Mum # 1:

She left an abusive relationship, has two children and wants to stand on her own two feet. Her immediate goal is to support her family without the aid of social services. Daycare hours make it almost impossible for her to get into work at 9 am and she (due to years of forced isolation) has no connections with people who can pick up her children after daycare ends. She is still dealing with court issues, is hyper aware of her safety and knows she will need some training. Despite all of that she is looking for an opportunity to work within the hours she has, to build her dreams and prove to herself and her children that they can overcome. There is no person to call when her children get sick and it will take time to build up friends and know her community better. If we want to reduce dependency on social services and create space for healthy families to emerge then shouldn’t we challenge more businesses to find a way to make employment happen. As an employer are you willing to help?

Mum # 2:

The strain of raising a special needs child can cause marriages to break, hers did. She is now raising her child on her own except when the father comes to spend some hours with their daughter – it’s not often but it helps. She has tried for years to build her own home-based businesses that allow her to bring in extra money while handling the complex 24 hour needs of her child. It hasn’t been easy and she thinks maybe a part-time job during school hours will be the best decision. Nervousness begins along with self-doubt as she questions how she is going to promote herself. Undaunted she puts together a resume (the best way she knows how) starts her search and applies to a store where she frequently shops in her community, I’ll call it LD. LD has multiple departments including pharmacy, beauty, housewares, electronics etc., and because she has past retail experience she figures there’s a fit. After speaking with a woman at the store she was directed to the manager. When he found out about the hours she had available he stated, in a tone that wasn’t pleasant, if he gives her those hours then the people who have worked there for years wouldn’t appreciate it. He didn’t even look at her resume. As an employer are you willing to hire parents with special needs?

Mum # 3:

After years in the corporate world a decision was made with her husband to start a family. They weighed out who should stay home with their children and it made sense it would be her. She loved being a mum but on many levels missed the career woman she used to be. She tried to keep up with what’s going on in her industry, she even took a couple of online courses, but things move fast in her industry. Now with both children in school she is finally able to apply for jobs and even has flexibility in terms of hours through the help of extended family. But, every time she applies they keep asking her about that gap in her resume and whether she is prepared to be back in the game. Despite her attempts to assure employers she is ready and willing she just isn’t getting the jobs. At one point in her career she was the person hiring for those jobs and now she can’t get past the interview herself. As an employer are you willing to take a chance and hire or mentor a skilled woman – placing her back in the game?

Mum # 4:

She started work at a young age, got married and managed to work part-time through most of her years as wife and mother. Eventually she went back to full-time employment. Then her parents became ill and she stepped up to take care of them. Until their deaths she compassionately worked to support and manage not only her own home but her parents too. She’s tired and lacks confidence but wants to be out there again in the world of the living. She would like to have a job even though she’s over 55 now and realizes her competition is younger. As she puts it, “I’m far from retirement and not dead yet – I want to contribute.” As an employer are you willing to hire a mature woman?

I could go on and on with stories of women who have found it difficult to return to work after making the choice to do the hard unpaid jobs like parenting and caregiving. They may have survived abuse or given up on their own pursuits so that others could thrive. These women assumed roles that used multiple skills but those positions are not valued enough to be a checkable box on an application form.

In the 20+ years I have been doing career consulting I have never had a male client face some of the oddest questions, judgements or flat-out rejection that many women have faced because they have taken on the role of being responsible for someone other than themselves.

There needs to be some way for employers to recognize that being away from paid employment is not a sin and that everyone is capable of learning. Flexibility on the part of employers and compromise on the part of candidates can make for better partnerships. When it comes to how and when we work there are multiple choices such as; off-site, job share or work share opportunities. We could have conversations with staff to determine their willingness to be flexible, train or mentor someone with special considerations instead of assuming nobody wants to help. So, with an open mind we can choose ways to support women returning to work.

Hire Mums because they are talented, adaptable and have managed more than they will ever be given credit for!