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3.0 - 3.1 What does the research show? / Creating Brave Spaces Workshop


3.0 What does the
research show? 

In 2022, Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (WSFMH) along with Mental Health Research Canada commissioned a national survey to learn about how people from various groups – racialized, LGBTQ2S+, those with disabilities and others – experience psychological health and safety at work.


Based on the data gained from this survey, WSFMH hosted nation-wide Inclusivity Roundtables. At these Inclusivity Roundtables, individuals collaborated with others to review the survey results, the findings from research on inclusivity and shared their input to help WSFMH and Queen's University develop new evidence- and practice-based resources. Below are the 13 themes that impact inclusivity that Queen's University identified from the data collected from the Inclusivity Roundtables. 

The 13 Themes that impact inclusivity



  • Engaging teams to create shared acceptable behaviours.

  • All team members should be able to safely question harmful behaviours and attitudes, not just their leader.

  • Each employee must be accountable to themselves, the organization and customers for their behaviours and attitudes.

  • Employees must also be able to hold customers, clients, patients, and students accountable for their harmful behaviours and support co-workers when doing this. 


Building Relationships

  • Authentic relationships that are built on safety and shared purpose with co-workers, colleagues, and leaders.

  • Having access to workplace groups that can host community events (examples include LGTBQ2S+, BIPOC, etc.).

  • The ability to have safe, open, supportive conversations with direct supervisors.



  • Safe, authentic, open conversations and accountability are crucial to creating safe workspaces. This includes asking questions instead of making assumptions and not expecting every individual to get it right all the time.

  • Improving verbal, written, and body language supports safe workspaces.

  • The goal should not be to inherently understand every culture, but to be able to ask questions in a respectful way so we can continue to become more aware.



  • Conflict is necessary and diverging thoughts, ideas and opinions should be acknowledged and discussed.

  • Conflict can include interpersonal conflict, as well as task or work-related conflict.

  • Conflict can be a form of constructive tension that leads to greater awareness, understanding, and trust.

  • Employees should be taught and shown how to safely and respectfully engage in conflict.

  • Different styles of conflict should be acknowledged and we should not try to force employees into a box, but instead work to understand the nuances of how other cultures handle conflict.



  • Safe and respectful workplace cultures are heavily influenced by curiosity and creating belongingness.

  • When we create opportunities for individuals to share their personal stories, we offer new insights and awareness into others' experiences.

  • Encourage divergence between employees and their co-workers or supervisors and provide ways to explore this divergence in a healthy and safe way.



  • Focus on creating belongingness within workspaces. You can do this by asking questions to get to know individuals like: “How would you like to be treated?”, “How do your background and experiences influence your needs?”.

  • Given this information, appreciate their individual needs and take it into consideration when changing or introducing policies, procedures, or hosting work events.



  • Leaders need to be present and model the behaviours and attitudes that cultivate brave spaces. Brave spaces are environments where employees feel safe speaking up and questioning harmful or biased behaviours, and where those called in are given an opportunity to correct their behaviours and attitudes.

  • Effective leaders also engage and consult affected parties when they are changing or introducing new policies and procedures.


Lived Experience

  • An individual's lived experience can impact their feelings of safety and can affect how they like to be treated at work.

  • Instead of treating everyone the way you’d like to be treated, treat them the way they want to be treated.

  • An individual's unique experiences, culture, and perspectives can contribute to new innovative ideas and benefit the organization.



  • A lack of feeling safe can lead employees to experience burnout, vulnerability, and fear.

  • Without safe and open communication, employees won’t feel comfortable speaking up about negative or harmful behaviours and attitudes.


Shared Purpose

  • The team has a shared vision and has agreed on shared values to help increase collaboration and find common ground when there is conflict.

  • If team members are moving away from the shared purpose and agreed-upon values, team members feel safe and comfortable holding them accountable by acknowledging the behaviours and attitudes.


Shift in Attitudes and Behaviours

  • Requiring specific behaviours that foster safe, respectful workspaces are critical.

  • Providing employees with ways to safely speak up and question harmful or biased attitudes and behaviours.


Training and Education

  • Providing employees with opportunities to participate in training that focuses on emotional intelligence and diversity, equity, and inclusion helps individuals learn how to respectfully ask questions, educate others, and be better communicators.

  • This training should be ongoing in order to support each individual's continued growth. It should also be free for employees, engaging, and provide practical examples.


Workplace Environment

  • Open communication is valued and there is a joint responsibility to address harmful or negative behaviours and attitudes.

  • There is social connection between team members. They support one another, look out for one another, and value each individual for who they are.

  • Team member contributions are valued, acknowledged, and the team is open to finding new ways of doing things together.

What we’ve taken from these 13 themes is the importance of creating brave spaces. How do we create brave spaces? Brave spaces are created when a group of individuals work together to develop shared values and guidelines. We’re going to call these “collective ethics”. These collective ethics will be a living document that a team should continue to renew at least annually, or when new members join, when changes are made to the team, and when considering new policies or processes.

The collective ethics can act as an anchor when having authentic conversations or navigating conflicts to ensure all parties are safe, valued and respected.

The collective ethics can help to ensure when looking to add members to the team, they have a clear understanding of what behaviours and attitudes are expected and which one’s they will be held accountable for.

In the next lesson, we’re going to walk you through how you can engage your team to create your collective ethics to help you cultivate a brave space.

Reflection Question

Answer the following question(s) in the corresponding section of your Workbook.

Which of these themes do you feel your team does well in? Which theme do you feel your team could work on? How could you improve?


3.1 Creating Brave
Spaces Workshop

Brave spaces are formed when a team focuses on:

Open Communication

This workshop was created to help you and your team develop a set of unique collective ethics that foster brave spaces where individuals come to work and interact with one another without experiencing harm.

What is covered in this workshop?

In this video, you’ll look at four factors that can help foster brave spaces. Open communication, safety, belonging, and accountability. You and your team will work together to reflect on what each of these factors can look like, what you’re already doing to support that factor, actions you’ll commit to in order to improve that factor and how you can overcome challenges. After you’ve reviewed all four factors and decided on actions, you’ll create your collective ethics based on these actions. You’ll also work together to come up with a respectful way to call team members in when they move away from your collective ethics.

Below, you can download the Creating Brave Spaces: Facilitator Version and the Creating Brave Spaces: Participant Version and review it while you watch the video below that walks you through how to facilitate the discussion.

Reflection Question

Answer the following question(s) in the corresponding section of your Workbook.

How can having a set of collective ethics support brave spaces in your team?

You have now completed Creating Safe Workspaces!

Congratulations, you have now completed Creating Safe Workspaces. You can download your continuing education certificate by clicking on the button below. However, the journey toward being a champion for psychological health and safety in the workplace does not end here. If you enjoyed this course and are interested in becoming certified in the Psychologically Safe Leader Method please continue to the following section where you can download the Applications of Knowledge for this course. Applications of Knowledge ask you to apply the concepts found in this course and describe your experience. Completion of the Applications of Knowledge will constitute completion of 1 of 5 courses required to get your PSLM Certification. If you are not interested in continuing on in your journey at this time, we thank you for your time and hope that what you have learned throughout this course will help you to be a more effective, resilient, and supportive leader.

Psychologically Safe Leader Method was made possible with support from our founding sponsors: 
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