Erica Pinsky



 available as a PODCAST

Last December we posted A Christmukah Story, a post I wrote in 2006 focusing on respecting diversity during the Christmas season.  I have had a number of conversations recently that lead me to conclude that the “do we say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays” conversation is far from complete.


As I wrote in that post “It is true that not everyone in our multi-cultural country celebrates Christmas - and it is important to acknowledge that.  However, in the workplace, this acknowledgment must be part of a broader, clearly communicated strategy to promote a respectful, inclusive culture. In a Canadian workplace, this culture clearly includes a celebration of Christmas.  If that is not recognized, an employer risks promoting divisiveness and alienation rather than inclusion and acceptance”


One of the challenges is finding language that conveys respect to all Canadians while recognizing the cultural and religious significance of Christmas in Canada. This holiday message from the Canadian School of Peacemaking provides an example of how we might accomplish this objective.


“We wish you peace this season as we, in our tradition, prepare to celebrate Christmas and the coming of the Prince of Peace.  Whatever tradition you are part of, we wish you the blessing of peace among friends, strangers and even enemies.”

Wishing you and those you cherish respect, love, good health

 and peace for the holiday season and the New Year.

Pinsky’s writing style makes this book an easy read for managers, decision-makers, human resource professionals and business owners and anyone else interested in building a respectful workplace. She provides tangible advice interwoven with the stories of real organizations who demonstrate on a daily basis the value of promoting a respectful workplace. Pinsky ensures that readers can glean from the book information they need to take action. A respectful  workplace culture is a road “paved” over time with trust and support; and Pinsky’s book provides the tools you need to arrive at your destination.

Catherine M. Mattice
President, Civility Partners, LLC & SME on Workplace Bullying



For many of us December means holiday preparations and celebrations.  For me, it has also come to mean the rather demoralizing task of having to read story after story of disrespect and abuse


Now you might be wondering, Erica: why on earth would you want to subject yourself to such a depressing task during the season of light and joy?  The short answer is that I am a panel member charged with the task of ranking America’s worst leaders for the eBossWatch America’s Worst Bosses LIST.


Our task as panel members is to read through the hundred or so cases of leaders who harass and bully those they are hired to lead, and rank them from 1 – 10: 1 being worst, 10 being the best.


Let me be clear here.  When I say best, I don’t actually mean best as in good; I mean best as in the least awful.


I have to tell you this is a challenging task.  I can’t help being reminded of something Woody Allen said in the movie Annie Hall.


“I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.  That's the two categories.

  The horrible are like, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled.

  I don't know how they get through life.  It's amazing to me.

 And the miserable is everyone else."


I am always tempted to rank every boss with a 1, but I don’t.  I look at the overall fact set and choose between the horrible and the miserable.


Whatever the ranking one commonality in these cases is abuse of power by those in positions of power.   Another commonality is that the targets are overwhelmingly women, members of visible minorities or LGBT individuals.  The most aggravating commonality is that when targets chose to speak up, they are either ignored or retaliated against.


It is maddeningly obvious that far too many leaders either fail to appreciate or choose to ignore the respectful, common sense advice shared in our October interview with Sue Paish, CEO of LifeLabs -


“Model the behaviour.  If you see inappropriate behaviour you better

 make sure you act on it because people will be watching.”


As depressing a task as it is, I choose to remain a part of this panel because I support the work of individuals like Asher Adelman, founder of eBossWatch.  His  goal is to empower job seekers with information about potential workplaces and what it's really like to work there.  As I learned when I interviewed Asher a number of years ago, it was his first-hand, nightmare experience of working in a hostile work environment that inspired him to find a way for people to evaluate prospective employers and avoid bad bosses.


Being a panel member affirms for me why I am in the Respect Business. Like Asher, I want individuals to be empowered to choose respect rather than disrespect.  I want us to use our collective power to create change by saying no to abusive bosses and disrespectful workplace cultures.


It struck me as an interesting coincidence that on the same day I was ranking abusive leaders, the world had gathered to say farewell to Nelson Mandela, a leader who personified what it means to "Model the Behaviour" and to walk the talk of respect.


Mandela once said that he felt “morally obliged” to do what he did in his life.  While it can be argued that there are vast differences in how individuals interpret morality, our values are the foundation for  acts and behaviours which can be described as moral obligations.


I believe that we can get some clear insights as to the values that inspired Mandela’s moral obligation from this quote:


“No one person is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin,

 or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can

 learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally

to the human heart than its opposite.”


The values of love, joy, peace, respect and compassion are the values of enlightenment.  When we align our behaviour with these values, we manifest our divine destiny; our soul’s purpose.  It is no coincidence that these are the values that come to the fore during the “Christmas” season.


Something else many of us do at this time of year is reflect on the past year and think about  “resolutions," changes we can implement in the New Year.  How might we, and by extension, our workplaces and our communities be transformed if more of us choose respect over disrespect, love over hate, peace over conflict?  I invite you to consider your values in relation to the concept of moral obligation and how that might translate to leadership.


When asked about leadership Mandela stated -

 “Lead from the back and let others believe they are in front.”


If this style of respectful, empowered leadership becomes the norm in our workplaces, I am quite certain that the eBossWatch worst bosses list would become history.  Imagine a world where disrespect is history.  Wouldn’t that be the ultimate Christmas gift for all of us, whatever tradition we are part of?



Thank you for choosing to be part of the Road to Respect™ community.


I look forward to developing our relationship

and continuing the Respect conversation in 2014.