Understanding the importance of intent

These days, good intentions are no longer enough to override questionable behaviours
By Sharone Bar-David
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/06/2019

For those of you who mean well when you tell certain jokes — or for the HR professionals among you who support other leaders or employees whose comments and jokes could cross the line — this commentary is for you.

Recently, several people have asked me about the role that intent plays vis-a-vis workplace harassment. That is, how important is the intention behind questionable behaviour?

Say, for example, you like bringing cheerful ethnic jokes to work. You do so to lighten the pressure on stressed-out co-workers. Everyone loves and encourages these tales.