On XXX, the XXX BCBA at XXX instructed the director, the managers, behavior specialists, and paraprofessionals to line up by age; the oldest on the left side of the room and the youngest on the right side of the room. We were then told to talk amongst ourselves to determine who was the oldest/youngest and to line up accordingly. The oldest employee would be positioned in the front of the line and the youngest employee would be at the end of the line. There were between 30-35 employees that were asked to do this. The end result of this Friday-morning exercise was not only humiliating to the oldest employee, but to the youngest one as well. What was the point of this? Our BCBA wanted us to see how diverse we are in age and how our age may be an indication of how we conduct our behavior support to the students.
Relevant background: The BCBA started in October and replaced previously terminated BCBA
Possible solutions: I would like to approach this with HR, but the XXX HR has not been supportive in the past.
Credentialing: Reporter self- identified as RBT, Supervisor is an LBA
Committee Input (e.g., considerations for pathways forward, potential barriers, potential solutions):
In accordance with the Core Principles of the Ethics Codes under “2. Treat Others with Compassion, Dignity, and Respect”, BCBAs are required to treat others with equality regarding personal identifiers.
The committee recommends that the reportee review Ethics Codes 1.07 and 1.08, detailing the requirements for certified professionals as it relates to non-discrimination and maintaining an environment that supports diversity. In this situation, it seems that there is a concern with the icebreaker/group activity inappropriately highlighting aspects of the employees’ identities.
Behavior analysts have a responsibility to do their best to foster a culture of non-discrimination and adequately address concerns when there may be areas to improve upon in the workplace.
It is recommended that the reportee do the following:
- Bring their concerns about the activity directly to the facilitator of the event, and discuss what would be helpful in the future for avoiding these types of concerns. It may be helpful to understand that while an activity or situation may appear discriminatory or ill-intentioned by one person, this may not be the perception of all involved. Discussing this with the facilitator would likely be helpful in avoiding this in the future.
- If the facilitator is a BCBA, they have an obligation (Codes 1.07 and 1.08) to attempt to foster a non-discriminatory environment and avoid future activities in which activities could be perceived in this light to the fullest extent possible.
- If this level of clear communication with the facilitator does not result in a ceasing of this type of activity, it is less so an issue that pertains to the Ethics Code and more so an issue of personal preference/comfort level. Attempting to bring this up with HR may be helpful if a mediator between parties is necessary to maintain a supportive employee/employer relationship (if that is what the relationship is in this situation).
- If this is a non-required activity that is not breaking ethical codes but is uncomfortable to this person, it may be best for the reportee to simply opt out of participation in the activity and alert the facilitator the purpose if necessary.
Considerations for exploration:
This may or may not have been intended to highlight age as a defining factor in a staff member’s ability to conduct their job responsibilities. While it may have come off as a “distasteful” activity to some, it does not seem to overtly contradict an ethics code requirement. Further inquiry is recommended on the part of the reportee to address the concerns with the person in charge of developing/facilitating the activity.
Applicable Ethics Codes and ARS (identified by the committee):
- 1.07 Cultural Responsiveness and Diversity
- 1.08 Nondiscrimination