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Dr. Shannon Lane Co-authors Article on Discussing Incivility

Dr. Shannon R. Lane, associate professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, partnered with Dr. Njeri Kagotho (Ohio State University), Dr. Jennifer McClendon (University of Nevada, Reno), Theresa Flowers, LCSW (Seed of Faith Counseling and Services, LLC). Dr. Todd Vanidestine (West Chester University) and Dr. Matthew Bogenschutz (Virginia Commonwealth University) to write “In their own words: social work faculty discuss incivility” for Social Work Education: The International Journal (June 7, 2021).

Here is the abstract:

Despite the detrimental effects of incivility in the workplace, relatively little research examines peer-level incivility in social work education. Incivility literature from multiple countries has established that within the academy, individuals’ bad behaviors coupled with nonexistent, weak, and inconsistent institutional policies as causes of the problem. This study analyzes qualitative data (n = 164) drawn from a larger survey (n = 243) collected from faculty members in social work education programs in the United States. The study explores personal experiences with incivility among social work faculty. In addition to the professional and personal impact of workplace incivility, three other themes emerge from these data: a discussion on how incivility occurs, the causes of incivility, and the role power and hierarchies have in supporting environments where these behaviors thrive. This study finds that incivility within social work education has negative long-term outcomes with implications for future job prospects, hiring decisions, and tenure and promotion. These data also confirm that consequences of microaggressions in the workplace are as harmful as overt acts of incivility. The study concludes with opportunities for leaders in social work education to identify and address individual behaviors while also assessing and addressing institutional oversight and response systems.

“These findings provide important implications for social work education and future research,” said Dr. Lane. At an organizational level, “a first step is mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training to create awareness of what is and is not acceptable behavior in the workplace.” This type of training should specifically address acts of incivility precipitated by characteristics associated with human diversity including race, gender, sexual orientation, and physical ability. “Our findings suggest this training would be beneficial,” noted Dr. Lane, “if it builds a supportive environment by empowering colleagues to intervene in situations where disruptive behaviors occur at the workplace....Addressing these acts as they occur in the space and time that they occur would create an organizational wide expectation for civility at the workplace.”

The presence and the continuing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic also brings an urgency to investigations like these. “As social work education responds to recent crises of racial injustice, COVID-19, political destabilization in the U.S. government, and an economic recession, as well as institutional challenges such as pressures for grant funding, accreditation requirements, and increased pressure to perform with limited funding,” observed Dr. Lane, “it is more critical than ever to attend to the interpersonal dynamics that most directly impact the success of students, faculty, staff, and universities.”