Bell execs fired for refusing to play "war games" at a retreat

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Bell execs fired for refusing to play "war games" at a retreat



[url=]Another reason to hate Bell Canada. As if I didn't have enough.[/url]


Fran Boutilier and Alison Green kicked butt when they went to work for Bell ExpressVu.

The first female senior executives at the satellite TV delivery service, they surpassed the performance of their male predecessors, posting better results and earning shares and praise, respectively, from Bell Canada's top boss, Michael Sabia, the two say in sworn court documents.

But one day, at an executive retreat, the two women refused to kick or be kicked.

In documents filed in a civil lawsuit alleging gender discrimination in the workplace by their former employers, the women say they had to put up with a macho corporate culture that included sexist, vulgar language and being frozen out of drinking sessions with the "boys' club."

The company denies the women were subjected to discrimination.

A July 2005 "off-site" retreat, organized around a martial arts theme, was "over the top," Green said in an interview.

They were assigned The Art of War to read. "War music" was playing. "We had to wear war paraphernalia ... bandannas, costumes and props," Boutilier said in an interview. And they were expected to participate in a judo class.

"I'm from New York," says Green. "I'm used to crazy things. What shocked me was Fran and I were both in business attire. We were both wearing high heels, stockings and skirts."

Boutilier paired off with a third woman who was there from a different arm of Bell Canada. Green says she refused to pair off with a man to practise kicks, punches and chokeholds.

"It was full body contact," she says. "There was no way. ... I kind of feigned an injury and said that I couldn't do it. I mean that's rule 101. No bodily contact between male and female employees."

Not long after that, the two women, separately, earned the dubious distinction of being the company's first two female VPs to be fired.

Some reaction:

[url=]Antonia Zerbisias[/url]


The game must change.

One thing that Smith did was hold a martial arts retreat where managers played middle-aged Ninja Turtles to "war music'' in a misbegotten attempt to forge team spirit.

Extreme? No doubt. Typical? Probably not.

But it's indicative of the locker room mentality that permeates too many executive floors.

Going all fists of fury would not only create a hostile environment for most women, it probably would for many men. But boys are trained to suck it up and take one for the team. However, is this any way to run a business?

[url=]Judy Rebick and Libby Burnham[/url]


"You're kidding me!" exclaimed Judy Rebick, a culture and communications professor from Ryerson University, with experience in women's issues. "You're talking about a Monty Python skit, right?"

Convinced the case is real, Rebick groaned, saying "this appears to be incredibly, unbelievably backward."

Playing war games at an off-site retreat is asking for trouble, she said, adding employers should be very careful.

"That company must be blind. These days, corporations are trying to focus on corporate culture skills and professional development – not war games."

Added Rebick: "Are you sure it wasn't just a skit?"


Libby Burnham, co-founder of Equal Voice, which pushes for more women in public life, was distressed at the women's description of the retreat. It's an image of male and female employees in jujitsu holds with, say, Ride of the Valkyries blasting away.

"What it means is the glass ceiling is shifting. Or rather, it's a new form of glass ceiling and it has an edge. When women get to a certain level, they get pushed right off the edge," said Burnham.

"The retreat sounds totally inappropriate. But then, little boys like to get down and wrestle around on the floor," she added. "I guess when women don't like to do it, they send them off and then say they are not team players."



Ladies, it could have been worse.

In a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, former Bell Express Vu executives Fran Boutilier and Alison Green complained about an offsite retreat they attended, the Star reported this week.

The retreat was organized around a martial arts theme.

"War music" was playing, Green told the Star.

"We had to wear war paraphernalia ... bandanas, costumes and props," Boutilier said.

The women were told to read The Art of War. They were expected to participate in a judo class.

But if they'd been attending a themed "team building" event organized by Zest Corporate Adventures, they might have had to dress up as pirates.

Their success would have been measured by how many "coveted pieces of eight" they'd been able to acquire, using a "tattered treasure map," to rescue their leader who'd been "kidnapped by a roving band of scurvy pirates."

The Pirate Ransom is one of 10 themed corporate adventures offered by Zest, a company launched in November as an offshoot of Oakville-based Delta Synergy, which organizes more traditional training sessions.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Just more reason not to ever do business with Ma Bell, as if there wasn't enough, already. My phone and internet service is through Telus Quebec, as far as I know Telus is an okay company. Am I correct?


Actually, we already didn't discuss this much over [url=]h...

I thought it went largely unnoticed because women here didn't think Bell Executives to be the poster women for feminism.

I mean, I know-- if the allegations are true-- that it's wrong from a feminist point of view.

But really. It's not like they are ever going to end up asking for change on Younge street because of all this.

There are larger fish to fry, and I think Bell Executives of all genders deserve each other.


Oh wow. I totally forgot about that. And I even posted in that thread!

Maybe I should cut and paste my post (with the later reaction articles) into the old thread and close this one. Yeah, that's what I'll do.

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