Carolina Conversations: Strom-Gottfried talks about doing the right thing

Campus Updates – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

As a social work researcher, Kim Strom-Gottfried has studied moral courage for much of her career. She has surveys and statistical data on the topic and has heard first-hand from many people about the struggle of dealing with the ethics of their colleagues and co-workers.
But perhaps her grandmother said it best: You know better than you do.
With a wide-ranging presentation titled “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” Strom-Gottfried, the University’s director of ethics education and policy management, led the first Carolina Conversation of the new year on the first day of classes, Jan. 10.
The recent #MeToo and #TimesUp social media movements concerning sexual harassment have brought attention to some workplace cultures where bad behavior is often tolerated, ignored or rationalized rather than reported.
“It seemed awfully fitting that we kick off this year’s discussion talking about something that I think is permeating throughout the world,” said G. Rumay Alexander, the University’s chief diversity officer and associate vice chancellor of diversity and inclusion, in her introductory remarks.
Indeed, Strom-Gottfried shared data to show incivility permeates even the seemingly civilized world of academia. In a 2016 survey of more than 830 faculty members in the United States, Canada and Britain, 64 percent reported being targeted by faculty incivility and 77 percent reported witnessing someone else being targeted.
January’s Carolina Conversation was an opportunity for faculty, staff and students to express their own views about when and how to respond to harassment, bullying, deceit, bigotry, hostility and other bad behavior in the workplace.
“I can see some people are taking a trip down bad memory lane,” Strom-Gottfried said.  Sometimes it’s the outsider or the new person who sees workplace dysfunction the most clearly, she said. “You get there and you think, ‘This is Crazytown.’ And the other person says, ‘No, that’s how we are.’”
At breaks in the presentation, …

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