Pink Shirt Day, held annually on the last Wednesday of February every year (February 22nd, 2023), is a national campaign dedicated to promoting kindness, inclusiveness and respect in schools and the workplace and beyond. It is a perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the impact of bullying and to encourage everyone to take action to prevent it.
It is important to address the issue of workplace bullying, as it directly impacts the mental health and wellbeing of workers, especially in motion pictures and performing arts where work can often be intense and high-pressure. On set, it is essential that all workers feel safe, respected and supported. Unfortunately, bullying can have a profound impact on both physical and mental health and can lead to decreased morale, productivity and job satisfaction.
What is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace bullying refers to repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, offend, or undermine. The risk factors that allow bullying in the workplace occur include a lack of clear policies and procedures, poor management practices, and a lack of support for those who experience bullying.
Workplace bullying can take many forms, including verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, physical violence, exclusion, and more. It can occur between co-workers, between supervisors and employees, or between employees and contractors.
Some common examples of workplace bullying behavi ors include:
Verbal abuse: Yelling, name-calling, sarcasm, and insults.
Threats and intimidation: Threatening physical harm or other consequences, such as job loss or demotion.
Physical aggression: Pushing, shoving, or hitting.
Psychological manipulation: Gaslighting, spreading rumors or lies, and isolating an individual from their colleagues.
Exclusion and isolation: Ignoring, excluding or ostracizing an individual from work-related activities.
Cyberbullying: Using technology, such as email, social media, or instant messaging, to bully or harass someone.
Work interference: Sabotaging someone's work, stealing their ideas, or preventing them from completing their work.
These behaviors are unacceptable in any workplace and can have serious consequences for the individual being bullied, as well as for the overall work environment. It is important to be aware of these behaviors and to take action to prevent them.
How to help
If you suspect that someone is being bullied on set, it is important to pay attention to the signs. This may include changes in behavior or mood, increased stress levels, decreased job satisfaction, and physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, and difficulty sleeping. If you witness bullying, it is important to take action to support the person being bullied and to report the behavior to the appropriate authorities.
It is important for union members to be aware of their rights and responsibilities with respect to workplace bullying. Ask your steward about collective agreements and production or studio representatives for their respectful workplace policies and reporting procedures.
If you are a victim of bullying or witness bullying on set, it is important to speak up and report the behavior to your supervisor, union representative or the appropriate production or studio staff. As well seek emotional support from a mental health professional or your employee/member assistance program to help you process your experience and deal with the traumatic impact bullying can have (see our Resources and Union Benefits pages).
In BC, the ActSafe Safety Association provides a comprehensive set of resources on bullying and harassment in the workplace, including a guide to understanding and preventing workplace bullying, and information on how to report incidents and seek support. https://www.actsafe.ca/topic/bullying-and-harassment/
As well, the WorkSafeBC website provides information on the legal obligations of employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment, as well as a guide to preventing and addressing bullying and harassment in the workplace. https://www.worksafebc.com/en/health-safety/hazards-exposures/bullying-harassment
Let’s Commit to Action
In the end, everyone in the motion picture industry and performing arts needs to work together to stop and deal with workplace bullying. By encouraging a culture of respect and inclusion and helping people who are bullied, we can make the workplace safer and healthier for everyone. Let's work together to make a difference, and support mental health and wellness in the industry every day, not just on Pink Shirt Day.