You’ve Come a Long Way Baby…. But They Haven’t


Evelina Silveira, President Diversity at Work

News Flash!  Sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape are making the global headlines.  Whether it is the gang rape of women and children in India or closer to home the stories about our Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the American Military.

We have a real global problem. With all of the advances women have made we  are not taking seriously on the job.  We are still in an age where authorities will turn a blind eye to violence against women and children.  We don’t have to look very far to see that women’s basic right to safety continues to be violated even in democratic countries like India, Canada and the United States.

Our Western countries are supposedly the beacons of progress and equality – but I guess that is not the case if you are a woman who wants to enter into a patriarchal institution like the US Military and the RCMP.

I have a few questions for the officials.  Did you ever prepare to have women be a part of your forces?  What proactive steps did you take to ensure that the women would be taken seriously by yourself and those you lead? What policies were put into place? What kind of screening questions were used to disqualify members who could not work respectfully in a male/female workplace? What training was given? Did anyone ever argue that there was a  “business case” for having women in these positions? What kind of training was involved to bring acceptance and respect for fellow female officers in these institutions?   It seems like none of this happened.  Clearly the RCMP and the US Military have failed women when it comes to affording them the same respect that male officers have been given.

 A lot of pain could have been prevented that the brave women endured.  An infrastructure was needed which could have:

  • ·         screened out people who cannot work respectfully alongside members of the opposite sex,
  •        had a knowledgeable and sensitive official who the victims could trust .

We’ve come a long way indeed, but some of our institutions definitely need to catch up when it comes to workplace respect and safety for women.

If you would like more information about gender sensitivity training, please contact:

Diversity at Work   519-659-4777 or

Our Youth Today: Lessons about LGBT acceptance


Evelina Silveira, President Diversity At Work

 P. is not your average 12 year old.  She has the depth and intellect of someone way past her years.  She’s kind of quirky, and never dull.  I have known P. for a good part of her childhood and have become somewhat of an important adult figure in her life.  I have heard about her struggles with self-mutilation, on-line forays into places she probably shouldn’t go and more.  Needless to say, I have grown to care about P. and she knows that she has a friend in me and can ask me for advice.

 P.’s friends at school became worried when she told them about cutting herself and wanting to kill herself.  Instead of dismissing it, they spoke to a teacher to get her some help.  She is doing much better, now.  Some of her classmates joke around with her because of how she dresses or the ways she acts, but it doesn’t seem to bother her too much.  She remains the individual that she is.

 A few months ago, P. shocked her classmates when she posted a message on Facebook declaring that she thought she was bisexual.  I panicked.  What would happen to her at school?  Was this really the best forum to do this in?  In some bizarre way it was.

 Although she did receive some hateful messages from strangers telling her that “she would rot in hell” and similar sentiments, they didn’t seem to bother her too much.  Her classmates really surprised us all.  A flurry of comments came in with messages like:  “love yourself”, “we still love you no matter what”,   “you’re still the same P. to me” and “be yourself”.  I have to say, I wouldn’t have expected this kind of acceptance from a group of 12 and 13 year olds!  In fact, it is rather contradictory to the negative messages we hear about teenagers lately who bully and harass their fellow students to the point of suicide.

 I share this story as a glimmer of hope.  The media can pick up on the most horrific stories of youth discrimination, harassment, bullying and sexual assault.   This story is not newsworthy for them but it is for me.  Teenagers are depicted in the media in the most negative ways.  As parents it is so easy for us to fear the worst,  that there is no hope for this group.  However, we must remember we rarely hear the stories like the one that I just told.

 There is hope for our youth. We can learn from these young students about acceptance and supporting one another.  With their help and others like them, maybe we can finally put an end to all of the needless suicides – the loss of precious young LGBT lives around the world.

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