What are the root causes of trauma in our workplaces?

Most recently, I was asked this question by an organization I am working with - As a consultant who specializes in creating safe spaces of healing within the movement to end sexual & domestic violence, what are the root causes of trauma and in our workplaces?

My answer: There are many causes of trauma in the workplace, both external and internal. As you know the workplace is a microcosm of what is happening in the world. People bring to work their whole entire selves, their experiences good and bad, and the impact they have on their mind, body, and spirit.

From transitions to lack of leadership, under-resourced, lack of funding, limited staff, the political climate to most recently pandemics and quarantines, and of course race, class, and gender power dynamics are all at the forefront of exasperating a staff that is already coming to work with their own set of traumas.

However, the most sustainable resource a workplace has beyond funding is its workers. At the root of workplace trauma, is the fact that the majority of frontline workers in social justice movements working at the intersection of reproductive, mental health, and gender-based violence (domestic violence and sexual assault), are that they themselves are victims. They are survivors of some form of gender-based violence. They have their own reproductive health story and are managing some form of dis-ease, mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional trauma.

Without any place to heal they bring it to the workplace and into the relationships with their co-workers, impacting the way they love, live and lead. It impacts the way they supervise, write grants, treat their clients, organize, strategically plan, etc, but most importantly it impacts their mental health until there is a breakdown in integrity and burnout. 

Over the last week, I have had at least 20 conversations with organizations in deep transitions. I have spoken to leaders and workers on the frontlines who are exhausted as they try to finish up this year and plan for the next year all at the same time.

I want to acknowledge the commitment to healing and self-care that many are doing. From taking the month off to giving staff self-care packages, wellness coupons and putting healing as a line item in next year's budget.

And I also want to acknowledge that reclaiming spirit and the sacred back from patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy is not an easy task or a one-year journey, it's a lifetime of work in an ever-changing organization., political times, and rotating staff.

In BOLD Love and Revolution,

Dr. Dee

Read more about how trauma manifest itself in organizations

Leave a Comment: