Be More Than a Bystander

In lieu of an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) article this month, we’d like to focus on a “Train-the-Trainer” program called “Be More Than a Bystander”.

“Be More Than a Bystander” is a renowned initiative launched in 2011 between Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) and the BC Lions, created to increase men’s awareness and understanding about the impact of violence against women and girls. This course engages men to take ownership and play an active role in ending gender-based bullying, harassment and violence in partnership with women.

The BC Centre for Women in the Trades (BCCWITT) partnered with EVA BC to adapt this program to “break the silence” on bullying and harassment in the skilled trades sector. The 3-day intensive training program is designed to ensure that male leaders and influencers in the skilled trades industry are confident and ready to take on this important work as spokesmen.

The curriculum covers important topics such as:

  • Gender-based bullying, harassment, and violence (both in the workplace and in general)
  • Understanding the response system (how to address situations to empower women)
  • The Bystander Model (societal pressures for men and how to move past them)

This is an important program to understand what women in the workplace can experience, especially in industries such as construction. Although improving, there is still a large gap between the numbers of men and women in the industry. It is important that we protect each other against gender-based discrimination and do what we can to make our workers feel as safe and supported as possible.

Five of our own NorLanders went through the program. In 2019, Steve Slootweg (BelPacific) and Will Plenert (PIM) completed it, and in 2020, Dan Scott (NorLand), Jeremie Head (NorLand), and David Peck (Pacific Blasting) completed it. We are so proud of these men for taking the lead and are hopeful more NorLanders will follow suit!

Here’s what Dan Scott had to say about the program:

The course was excellent. It was a real eye-opener. I definitely believe that we could benefit from more of our people doing the longer trainer course. Probably the upper-middle management types would have their world expanded, and more would trickle down to the rank and file. That being said, the ninety-minute course I was learning to present will be valuable to everyone.

My take-away from it is that gender-based harassment is a huge problem. As we dove into the topic, it came quickly apparent that it has affected almost everyone. We all have moms, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, and women that are a part of our lives. Statistics really reinforced what we were learning in conversation. The cool part was we also learned how we the individual person can make an impact, and not be a part of the problem. 

As far as bringing things to my daily life, it can’t not make me think and view things a little bit differently when it comes to the women around me. I will definitely be more conscious of the little things that I do and how they can be perceived.

The most memorable part to me was that the eight guys in the course all went home at night and discussed with their wives what we had learned and talked about that day. When our wives were asked for some feedback and maybe some of their own experiences, the stories that came to light were terrible to gut-wrenching. The things we learned about our “significant others” was sobering.  The fact that all these ladies had a personal story really drove home the point of why we were there. You could see the power of the stories as each guy recited what they had learned.

My advice to people after taking the course is simple. Just take one or two skills we learned about and polish them up. Practice those things whenever the opportunity arises, and you will find it gets easier and more effective.

I would recommend this course to others. Especially to those people who would be comfortable in the training role. The course will open up your views. If you believe in many small acts changing things for the better, this course will strengthen that view.

Teammates Get Treated Like Family. It is so beneficial for NorLanders to feel comfortable with being able to stand up for our family members when gender-based incidents occur. We all deserve to feel safe and supported at the workplace.

Thank you so much to Steve, Will, Dan, Jeremie and David for taking the lead in this initiative to Help Build Enduring Communities, Together.

If you would like to take the “Be More Than a Bystander” program, please fill out the application form here.