Harassment twice as bad for minority women

Study finds double jeopardy of sexual and ethnic harassment
By Shannon Klie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/10/2006

While most companies have clear-cut policies against sexism and racism, employers must look deeper to ensure the more subtle forms of harassment perpetrated against minority women aren’t creeping into the workplace, according to a University of Toronto professor.

“Harassment is usually conceptualized as this very overt and direct behaviour,” said Jennifer Berdahl of the university’s Rotman School of Management. “But harassment is also sabotaging them, ignoring them, silencing them in a persistent way that frustrates and wears down and aggravates the target. I would suspect that minority women might be treated almost as invisible.”

This persistent form of harassment has a profound effect on minority women, both at work and in their personal lives. Berdahl’s recent study,