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FEATURE ARTICLE  

Feature Articles : Editorial - Corporations and Bullying
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Three Part Series on Mobbing Overview Profiles Effects Mandate The following article courtesy No Bully For Me.

Editorial: Corporations and Bullying

 
   

Corporations.

They've been called "soul stealers." And for good reason. They steal our joy and love of beauty in life when they are infected with toxic people and environments.

Large corporations in general, and in particular, ones that focus exclusively on the shareholder and on making larger and larger profits every year, do not allow creativity and enthusiasm for life to survive. In fact, they encourage bullying and mobbing of talented and hard-working employees because they focus on making money and not "rocking the boat" over human relationships and creativity.

Working in a large institution, whether for profit or not, inherently creates a system that does not favor human kindness and caring. In the "traditional" large corporation laughter and fun is not approved unless it can be proven to somehow increase profits. In fact, one of our favorite lines at my previous workplace when someone was caught talking was "is it called work" or "talk?"


Stepping on others is perfectly acceptable
in this environment as long as you can
"justify" it in financial terms.


The ever-popular comic strip "Dilbert" is so popular because it comments on "cubicle hell." And whether you work in a cubicle, a shop floor or a retail environment, you recognize the fawning up-and-comer, the crazy introvert, the dictator, the bully and the psychopath, among others. These caricatures are created in institutions because generally, no one actually relates to anyone else in a healthy way. Once an institution has grown too large, the left hand no longer knows what the right hand is doing, and is likely too busy making its own political plans to "take over" or hold onto its current position to care. "Dilbert" humorously points out how ludicrous and toxic working in large corporations can be.

The only passion or fun allowed in such an environment is the game of "sucking up to the boss" and the ever popular "generating more revenue" at all costs. Stepping on others is perfectly acceptable in this environment as long as you can "justify" it in financial terms. Validation comes in the form of numbers, not emotions.

Corporations more often than not, fail in areas like corporate governance, public safety, anti-harassment and environmental protection issues. When these shortcomings are exposed and threaten productivity and profitability, they react by developing programs to prevent it, thus protecting them selves as an entity. Companies want to survive at all costs, and a prevention program is viewed as a way to protect themselves from liability. However, they often have people within the corporation who believe that they don't actually have to follow the program. They just have to have it "available" because the over-arching mission and goal of the company is to generate profits. They have no pretensions about caring about "lofty" socialistic or humanistic ideals. So when bullying and mobbing is conducted by management, it is not viewed as bullying, but rather "cost-cutting" and "down-sizing" for the companies good. In extension, how can they see employees targeting other employees as an issue, if they don't see it in themselves?


Companies generally only see bullying as
a productivity issue. Often they target the "victim"
as much or more than they do the bully.


Studies show that 1 in 5 people are bullied at work, and corporations are doing nothing about it except to try and hide or "overlook" it until it's out of control or someone goes "postal." Only when they see they have a real duty to their employees because of legal liability will they change their policies to prevent bullying. Only then will they stop blaming the victim for taking HR's valuable time complaining about "non- issues" or "personality conflicts."

Companies generally only see bullying as a productivity issue. Often they target the "victim" as much or more than they do the bully, causing secondary wounding to an already traumatized person in failing to prevent the emotional violence, even when they know, sometimes for years, about how the person is being bullied.

For example, I personally know of someone who was bullied repeatedly for several years verbally. This person had told management and their union about the issues. Neither the corporation nor the union would help, because they are both there to protect profits, one for the employees and one for the company. They are not there to deal with "relationship issues." So when this person finally gave up trying to overlook the behaviour of this bully and basically told the bully to back off, the bully physically attacked this person. When this person defended himself, he ended up being seen as just as much of a "problem" as the bully and was targeted as "deadwood" to be "gotten rid of" by management as quickly as possible. Both people were suspended for the same amount of time, even though management and the union had had several complaints about the bully from others as well as from the target and witnesses clearly stated the bully had started the altercation. What the company was concerned about in this case, was that this issue, now out in the open, got in the way of their profitability and was taking up "valuable time" on something to do with "relationship issues."

This concern for numbers over people creates psychopaths and brutal environments that steal our souls. But for most companies, blaming the victim is easier than doing the work of educating and helping the targets and bystanders, and especially in dealing with a bully, who might sue them for constructive dismissal or other complaints if they are "punished" in any way for their outrageous behaviour. Often it is far easier for a company to remove the target/victim - as they are seen as the "problem" for "rocking the boat" and showing the company what it wanted to keep hidden.


When companies develop anti-harassment and
workplace safety programs, their primary purpose
is to protect the company.


We are told the corporation is a "good" entity - it is there to kindly and altruistically provide us with jobs, to protect us from harm while at work, and to create a situation whereby if they make more money - we all win because of the supposed "trickle down effect" and "invisible hand" theory of economics. But really, we all lose. Because the theories are flawed. They are not based on ethics and people, but on money and greed. Those billion dollar profits don't go to researching how to make a better work environment, rewarding and training for staff, medi-care, or healing it's people that get injured while making billions for it every year. In fact, as I can attest, companies often fight very hard to get out of their legal obligation to pay for injured workers while they are recovering. So when the corporate system fails, as it often does, especially in situations such as bullying, there is no one to protect us, least of all the corporation as an institution, no matter what their anti-harassment policies state. Bullying simply thrives in the corporate environment.

When companies develop anti-harassment and workplace safety programs, their primary purpose is to protect the company. So is it truly possible for companies to embrace helping anyone being bullied, if the purpose of having the policies is to help protect the company over the employee?

I'd like to believe the workplace is changing. That employers are realizing the value of people more. But I'm an idealist. And it is always more difficult to make large scale changes in larger, more traditional corporations. But there is hope. If we can get companies to adopt the anti-bullying and mobbing policies, to recognize there is a very real problem that they are partially responsible in creating, and that this issue that will affect them in the long run, then change can begin.

Teaching people that difference is valuable, and that communication is the key to a healthy environment is very important. Giving people the education and training to know how to deal with bullying and other soul-stealing activities of the large corporation teaches self-sufficiency and self-esteem and increases morale, efficiency and productivity, which of course, are the "magic words" to any large corporation.


(Bullying) is the true "soul stealer" in a
large corporation because bullying
creates more bullies.


The next step is creating peer support groups, as they will make more of a difference in the long run than the policies alone ever will. Creating kind workplaces is extremely important. Bullying cannot continue if people take a stand for their peers. Caring for others, empathizing with their plight and offering basic human kindness destroys what the bully wants, which is control and fear to paralyze people from acting kindly towards each other.

Bullying is built on pulling people and corporations apart from the inside out. It is a sickness that takes human kindness and caring out of relationships wherever it can. It is the true "soul stealer" in a large corporation because bullying creates more bullies. It creates a toxic environment where people feel they must become a bully or a party to the bully to survive.

But although bullying can only thrive in dysfunctional work places where fear reigns and people are afraid to support others for fear of being hurt themselves - something that is important to remember is that the bully is always outnumbered. Even if there are no real policies in place to protect a worker, employees can affect change by joining with and educating others on this issue. The employees still have the advantage over the bully if they have the courage to stand up to the bully, and are educated and committed to stopping bullying wherever and whenever they can.

Peer support can challenge and prevent bullying. But it is up to the corporation to deal with large scale and repeated bullying and mobbing. Organizations that tolerate and condone bullying only encourage people to give up trying to make a difference, and these same people that no longer feel safe no longer "produce', which is important to the company's "bottom line." If a corporation won't change for the sake of ethics, and because it is the right thing to do, it may change if those in charge can see it will make a difference to the bottom line in reduced sick time, higher morale and productivity, etc.

It's still, in the end, up to the individuals to join together to take a stand. It's up to the targets to educate others. And it's up to the group of us as a unit to lobby government and force large corporations to change and hear our voice. Laws will be changed if enough of us speak out against this "silent epidemic." We need to speak out as often as we can, with as many people as we can, as to the importance of the bullying issue. We can do this individually and as a group, because together we are a powerful force for change.
We can stop the violence done to us emotionally and physically. We can stop the bullying and "crazy making."

Your voice makes a difference!

So what are you going to do?

Karen Learmonth

(Note: Bolding has been added in this article for emphasis.)

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The superior person understands rightness;
the inferior person understands profit.

~ Confucius

 
 

The superior person understands rightness; the inferior person understands profit.

~ Confucius

 
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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