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?
our objective is to raise awareness about workplace
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
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
I look forward to see those additions...
Now how important is recognition (like awards) for
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...