Have you heard the one about…

By Tom D'Amico
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/16/2002

When it comes to sexism in the workplace, harassment can be very obvious — pinching, grabbing, touching — but it can also be much more subtle. Innuendoes, condescending or patronizing behaviour, hints for sexual favours are all forms of harassment. So too are jokes.

We’ve all heard jokes that target sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion. It’s only a joke, right? No harm done.

The truth is homophobic, sexist or bigoted jokes can be harmful and it’s important for the organization’s leaders to make it clear they are unacceptable. Not doing so confirms the toleration of the remarks as acceptable to the dominant culture.