Diversity and Inclusion: Sexism

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Sexism is pervasive in our culture. We see the effects of this sexism in the differences in wages and earnings for similarly qualified men and women.

Women are often subjected to sexual harassment on the street and in the workplace including in organizations like yours.

Sexism influences staff and resident interactions in every community. Sometimes sexual harassment is blatant – a resident grabs a staff member’s body inappropriately.  Other times it is much more subtle such as a resident complimenting a staff member’s shape, size or appearance. This is even more complicated when residents involved are living with dementia.

Staff and residents’ current and past traumatic or sex-related experiences have long-lasting impact on the people working and living in your community. Organizations embracing inclusivity need to address this head on rather than simply encouraging staff to laugh it off or ignore harassment.Communities need to establish a culture that openly acknowledges and discusses these experiences and then works together to address it. These solutions should support everyone to feel safe and included in the community where they work and live. A person-centered approach to addressing sexual harassment acknowledges the ways in which sexism influences care and workplace culture and seeks to openly address it.

How can you and your community support staff and resident safety and well-being?

Some starting points might be:

  • Ask staff to reflect on their strategies for negotiating sexual harassment while working with older adults.
  • Listen to their experiences and brainstorm ways together that workers could be supported by teams in their interactions with residents and families.
  • Create spaces for conversations between supervisors, staff and residents to discuss what regular care situations makes them uncomfortable.
  • Listen to each other and brainstorm ways together that residents and staff could support each other to more positively engage each other.


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