Be the Upstander in Business and at Work

I’ve been conducting harassment prevention training since it became a compliance requirement at the beginning of my HR career.  I’m always interested in related compliance requirements and training, such as the New York State Dignity for all Students Act (DASA) enacted last year:

  • DASA is new legislation to ensure NYS students a learning experience that is free of discrimination or harassment.
    • Went into effect July 1, 2012
    • Applies to public schools, charter schools, and BOCES
    • Applies to incidents on school property (including but not limited to school buildings, athletic fields, playgrounds, parking lots, buses)
    • Applies to school-sponsored functions, events/activities
    • The Dignity Act prohibits harassment and discrimination of individuals on school property or at a school function based upon a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.
    • Expands protected classes above to include:
      • gender
      • weight
      • religion
      • religious practice
      • ethnic group
      • sexual orientation.

In my DASA travels, I was introduced to these defined roles:

  • The Bully
  • The Target / Victim
  • The Bystander, and
  • The Upstander.

The Bystanders hold the key:  the whole bullying drama usually cannot take place if there’s no audience.

An Upstander is:

A person who intervenes when s/he witnesses intolerance; someone who takes a stand against bullying.

The key to turning the tide to prevent bullying is turning Bystanders into Upstanders:

  • Help the students understand the power they have to make a difference – that  they are the solution
  • Help students understand the dynamics of bullying situations – 80% of students stand by and watch
  • Train interested students in teaching the strategies of Upstanding behaviors.

This past week, I attended a meeting of nonprofit adult volunteers, where one volunteer without fail takes over the meeting every time, literally mounting their bully pulpit, ignoring meeting norms and procedures, disrupting the meeting and finger-pointing without providing solutions, and without intervention / interruption by meeting leaders.

Another meeting member became an Upstander this week  just as the bully mounted their pulpit.  The Upstander member stood up, speaking clearly and as truly as a bell:  “Excuse me, but you’re not following the meeting rules, which is frankly disrespectful.  Please sit down and speak at the appropriate time.”  The bully paused, and several of us jumped into the pause, echoing the Upstander’s request, joining the Upstander team.  The bully sat down.  And, when the time came during the meeting process for the bully to speak their turn, they did so, appropriately and respectively.

How will you be part of the Upstander solution this week, in business and at work?



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4 Responses to “Be the Upstander in Business and at Work”

  1. Nancy Klepsch Says:

    Hey Deb, may I use this blog posting next year in class when I teach Speech?

  2. Deb Best Says:

    Absolutely – thank you for your kind feedback, Nan!

  3. Suzanne O'Connor Says:

    Great post Deb! Siena College has an Active Bystander Training around the issue of sexual harrassment during first year orientation every summer.

  4. Deb Best Says:

    Suzanne, thanks for your kind feedback!

    Sounds like Siena College has a best practice Upstander approach to Harassment Awareness training – bravo!