Are company Stampede par-tays out of control?

By Kristine Gick

To booby-shoot, or not to booby-shoot? That is the question being posed by a group of Calgary researchers.

The Sheldon Chumer Foundation for Ethics in Leadership set out to investigate the underlying issues behind rowdy corporate gatherings at Stampede time on Tue., Jun. 19. The discussion was based around whether or not this is becoming a serious issue.

“The problem is a lack of clarity on the expectations of employees to participate in events that they are not necessarily comfortable with,” said SCFEL president Janet Keeping.

All three scenarios described popular stampede behaviour, consisiting of alcohol abuse and over-sexualized behaviour. The concern was that the behaviour had often taken place at a workplace function.

“It’s as if party time means the ordinary rules don’t apply, but it makes a difference when it’s someone’s livelihood,” said Keeping.

With most of the companies being large and professional, ideas like intimidation, gender issues, and power struggles were brought up during the discussion.

“These are careers that people work towards for years, with a lot of time and money invested,” said Keeping. “The question of how much choice one feels they have is a vague area that needs to be addressed.”

The first scenario involved a 23 year-old asked to do a “booby shot” by an intoxicated fellow employee. On one hand she was unsure if she should comply to fit in or on the other if it is inappropriate.

“If peer pressure is still an issue at 23 perhaps it is a personal maturity problem, but not the fault of her company” said Ravenwood Energy Corp. president and CEO David Beckwermert.

There was general agreement amongst the discussion’s participants that a procedure to address employee concerns would reduce the chances of anyone feeling uncomfortable. The participants also agreed that there are some serious issues in terms of liability potential.

“Dignity and respect to workers should be twenty-four-seven, not just nine-to-five,” said a participant, who wished to remain anonymous.

The Chumer Foundation is organized to nurture the public demand for ethical leadership through events such as this one. Keeping said it is up to companies to ensure that they have a clear an ethical standard.

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