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Breaking the Silence mini-cases reflect on intolerance and discrimination

Feb 8, 2022

Kanina Blanchard, Alison Konrad, and Karen MacMillan with diverse group of women in the background

Dealing with uncertainty is a defining feature of modern business. Whether it’s the global pandemic, issues of injustice and inequality, or the need to build resilience in the environment and supply chains, there’s a new batch of challenges for leaders today. That’s why new cases from Ivey Publishing are bringing current issues to life in the Ivey classroom. Robust discussions of these real-life problems aim to influence behaviour, build critical thinking, and give students the confidence to face the future of business head-on. Here’s a look at new cases written and taught by Ivey faculty and the lessons they bring.

Breaking the Silence (A): Taboo Topics, Breaking the Silence (B): Exploring Your Own Stories,
Breaking the Silence at Work: (A) Taboo Topics, Breaking the Silence at Work: (B) Explore Your Own Stories
(First published in 2020 and updated in September 2021)
Breaking the Silence LGBTQ+ (with editor)

Kanina Blanchard, Assistant Professor, Management Communications and General Management; Alison Konrad, Professor of Organizational Behaviour; and Karen MacMillan, PhD ’13, Lecturer in Organizational Behaviour

This series of mini-cases based on real situations that leaders, professionals, and students have had with intolerance or discrimination aims to help people prepare or engage in the midst of a situation with humility and vulnerability. The mini-case discussions help to forge connections between participants, creating a safe space to talk and grow, and providing fundamental steps they can follow when faced with similar situations. Kanina Blanchard teaches the mini-cases with co-authors Alison Konrad and Karen MacMillan. She said the goal of the lessons from the case discussions is not to fix or solve the issues, but rather to help people to be curious and focus on understanding.

“The hope is to help participants shift away from engaging with fear or disengaging/being a bystander out of fear. Instead, the hope is to help them start developing the skills and confidence to engage with curiosity,” she said.

Blanchard said she enjoys teaching the mini-cases because she can watch participants engage and grow and learn through practice. For instance, in one session where she was working with allies (men) of women in an organization, the allies worked through the case in a manner they thought was normal, but subsequent feedback revealed the women wouldn’t approach the situation the same way.

“The ensuing discussion was rich and elucidated the impact of positionality on how breaking the silence can be a very different reality for everyone as well as the importance of actively witnessing and not being a bystander,” she said. 

Soon to come in the Breaking the Silence at Work series is a new case focused on the LGBTQ+ community.