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INTERVIEW

Awards : Interview

mobbing.ca Winner of Vie's Inn of Wonders' Awards Content Site of the Year 2006!

We are very pleased to have with us Anton Hout, Webmaster of mobbing.ca, that won our Content Site of the Year Award 2006...

Anton, how did you start in making a site about a subject like mobbing?

Anton Hout: After I experienced this form of abuse while working at the Calgary Herald newspaper and saw the devastating effects on my life and on my family first hand, I was determined to try to help others by warning them about mobbing. In my case the bullies who attacked me were senior members of the union I was in. This put me in a vulnerable position as nobody would stand up to the bullies. Other union members were too afraid to complain about the abuse that they were also experiencing from the same bullies. Weak and incompetent managers found it easier to play along with destroying my career than it would have been to confront the bullies. The person who is targeted by bullies doesn't stand a chance. Co-workers say nothing, managers play along and the target's life, career, finances, emotional and mental states are ruined. Some never recover and according to research, approximately 15 percent of those who commit suicide were recently mobbed at work. In addition to suicide some respond to the abuse violently and return to the workplace to kill the bullies and managers responsible. This is why I felt it was important to create a website to raise awareness about this horrible form of abuse. Unfortunately the progress is very slow. Managers at abusive companies like the Calgary Herald (and its parent company Canwest Global) could care less about destroying lives.

Managers have literally laughed in my face when I tried to explain to them about the mobbing phenomenon. It's all just a joke to the bullies and management, not only at the Calgary Herald and Canwest Global but in companies around the world. Although mobbing.ca is a Canadian website, workplace mobbing is a global problem.

 
   

That's indeed a very good reason... We all know that mobbing isn't really anything new. But when did the awareness really begin for this phenomenon?

Anton: In the early 1980's, a Swedish psychologist named Heinz Leymann did research on the mobbing phenomenon. Mobbing is much more well known in Europe than in North America. Many European countries have passed laws and attempted to control widespread workplace abuse. In 1999 the book "Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace" by Noa Davenport, Gail P. Elliott and Ruth D. Schwartz was released. It helped raise awareness in North America somewhat. The problem is that the only people who become aware of the problem are those who are targets.

Often they only realize the seriousness of the situation after it is too late and their lives are already ruined and it is only a matter of time before their careers are destroyed. Awareness at a national level to the point where workplace bullying is no longer tolerated is still a long way off. In Canada, for example, it is still not illegal to harass a person so severely that they become disabled, to cost them their career, to drive them to suicide or even homicide. It is perfectly legal to do this to another human being in Canada. The only exception to this is the province of Quebec which passed legislation in 2004 against psychological harassment. This was the first jurisdiction in North America to pass laws related to workplace bullying. So you can see we have a long way to go before we can hope to see an end to workplace mobbing. In the meantime lives continue to be destroyed daily in Canada and around the world with the full knowledge of governments and corporations. Until enough of us know about mobbing and demand change it will go on and on.

Well, I presume we can only hope that they realize this soon, can't we?... On the site you have quite some authors publishing on mobbing. Was this a hard to accomplish?

Anton: We have been very fortunate to have experts in the field contribute articles to mobbing.ca. Most authors who write on the subject of mobbing are well aware of the desperate need to have information made available to as many people as possible. Lives are literally at stake after all. Prof. Kenneth Westhues, University of Waterloo, has been very supportive of our work and is an inspiration to many targets of mobbing as he was able to overcome a mobbing attack in his own life.

We like to have many writers contribute as each is able to elaborate on a specific area related to mobbing and in this way provide deeper insights into the phenomenon and how it works and takes root in a corporate culture.

I see... What is the main objective you're trying to achieve with your website?

Anton: Primarily our objective is to raise awareness about workplace mobbing.

What is it? Why doess it happen? Who does it happen to? How do we stop it? As I mentioned, people who come to our site now are usually those who are already in the midst of a mobbing and are desperate to learn about what is being done to them. Unfortunately by this stage it is often too late. So we are interested in bringing mobbing to the attention of a wider audience so this form of vicious abuse will be put under the glare of a spotlight. Once everyone has heard of mobbing and knows what to look for it will be possible to stop it in its tracks, before it gets out of control. If managers, human resources personnel, employee assistance program workers, mental health professionals, union representatives, lawyers and judges are aware of how serious the human costs and the real financial costs to businesses and society are they will understand the need to eliminate mobbing.

I agree, let's hope. Do you have some future goals with the site you definitely want to achieve?

Anton: We will keep doing what we have been doing and continue to expand our information base with new articles. We would like to add more research based information as well as financial arguments for stopping bullies in the workplace. Most companies take a shortsighted view of the financial decision to support bullies. Bullies are usually loud and aggressive. It is often easier to go along with bullies and do what they want by firing the person they have targeted. Companies are afraid to stand up to bullies and fire them instead, fearing they would be sued for wrongful dismissal. (There are no laws against bullying and engaging in this harassment is still every bully's right in Canada.) On the other hand companies now ignore the real costs of keeping bullies around. Bullies lower moral and productivity in entire departments. They increase, sick leave, staff turn over and training costs. They cost society in health care expenses, loss of tax revenue once targets are forced into unemployment (sometimes permanently), and costs associated with suicides and homicides. Bullies are very expensive to keep around. The sooner we all realize this the better.

I look forward to see those additions... Now how important is recognition (like awards) for you?

Anton: A site like mobbing.ca can be difficult to work on if you have been through this form of abuse. Working on this site has been emotionally challenging and I have wanted to quit several times. But then I will get an e-mail from someone thanking me for the information on mobbing.ca. Sometimes people are grateful for the information because they thought they were going crazy. Once they learned about mobbing and what was happening they could understand it was not their fault, the bully and management who allowed this abusive behavior to continue were responsible. Learning about mobbing can make the difference between life and death. Some have been close to suicide before they realized what the mobbing phenomenon was doing to them. This recognition is very important as it makes all the work worthwhile and helps me continue the work for another day. We have worked hard to build valuable content while at the same time designing a site that is visually pleasing and easy to navigate. This is where recognition from awards programs such as yours have meant so much. It helps us know that we are on the right track. Thank you for taking the time to evaluate our site. We are very pleased and honored to have been chosen as Content Site of the Year 2006.

You're most welcome and thank you, Anton Hout, for this interview and I wish you and your wonderful site all the best in the future...

 
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The world is a dangerous place,
not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~ Albert Einstein

 
 

"If everyone is in agreement to condemn someone accused, release him, for he must be innocent."

~ Talmudic Principle

 
 
Video Library
The Corporation
 
Interview with a Target of
Workplace Bullying

by John Peel
on Home Truths,
BBC Radio 4
(mp3)

Courtesy BullyEQ
 
 
 

WEBQuotes


Calgary Herald
"...grossly unacceptable employer behaviour."
> AFL
"There was a lot of bullying in the newsroom and it was a gift to be able to stand up and say we are prepared to do something about it."
> UNB

Canwest Global
"The CanWest corporation is showing the ugly and intolerant face of modern media," ... "While openly interfering in editorial content it cravenly punishes those journalists who have the courage to protest."
> IFJ
"Many journalists left CanWest, deciding to quit or take disability leave after the frigid mood of their newsrooms made them ill."
> Canwest Watch

Imperial Parking
"Timothy Lloyd decided he had had enough of "going in to war every day." ... I was very unhappy in my work -- burned out, stressed out ... There were constant threats of dismissal, constant invading of my personal space, and use of profanity that was personally directed at me."
> HealthSmith

Annuity Research & Marketing Service Ltd.
"Every employer, said Justice Dambrot, owes a contractual duty to its employees to “treat them fairly, with civility, decency, respect, and dignity.” By failing to protect Ms. Stamos from Mr. Hammami’s harassment, the court concluded that the employer had breached this contractual duty."
> Labor Relations Consultants


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