Recognizing Pink Shirt Day

Today, I invite the University of Toronto community to recognize Pink Shirt Day, when people of all ages will take a stand against bullying and share their commitment to making positive change in the environments where they learn, live, or work.

A collective act of kindness started Pink Shirt Day in 2007. Seeing a grade 9 boy being bullied for wearing pink, two Nova Scotia high school students organized a “pink protest,” encouraging fellow students to wear pink and distributing pink tank tops, headbands, and wristbands as a way to show solidarity. News of the “pink protest” spread, and today, Pink Shirt Day is recognized on the last Wednesday of February in Canada and in many countries around the world.

In the workplace, bullying and harassment can exist on a spectrum of behaviours ranging from insults, slurs, and inappropriate jokes to physical assault. It can be motivated by racism, homophobia, transphobia, faith, and/or other forms of discrimination.

Every employee at the University of Toronto has the right to work within a safe and inclusive environment. Faculty, librarians, and staff work under a common set of workplace conduct policies and guidelines that set out the University’s expectations of behaviour and conduct, and outline the processes used when community members bring forward concerns and complaints. Details can be found in my fall 2021 memo, Supporting an inclusive and welcoming community.

I encourage managers and academic leaders to prioritize conversations within your units, campuses, and divisions about workplace culture. Collaborating on strategies to foster a supportive working environment can help everyone feel heard and valued and have a positive impact on mental health.

Our tri-campus equity offices can provide additional support, training, and resources as you and your team create more inclusive spaces, both physical and virtual. Should you feel a workplace review is needed to address concerns, please contact the Workplace Investigations (WPI) Unit.

On Pink Shirt Day and every day, I ask the U of T community to stand together against bullying, incivility, discrimination, and harassment in the workplace. Everyone benefits from a culture of kindness and respect. We have a collective responsibility to build inclusive and respectful work environments.

Raising a concern or complaint

There are confidential pathways available to employees experiencing workplace incivility, bullying, harassment, or discrimination of any kind. There are no reprisals for raising a concern or complaint. Should you wish to do so, you have many options:

If you are experiencing sexual violence or sexual harassment, you may raise it with the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre.