Posted by: healingtheworkplace | September 12, 2009

Stop Bullying NOW!

Hi, the other day I heard a fellow being interviewed on the radio and he was telling his listeners that…1 in 4 children are bullied at school. So I thought, “I wonder what the statistics are for the workplace?” After digging around on the www for a few minutes I discovered that…

According to an article in National Currents a newsletter of the National Communications Association, 1 in 10 US workers report feeling bullied at work with 1 in 4 reporting that they work in an “extremely hostile environment”.

Wait a minute here! What’s wrong with this picture and why is this form of abuse tolerated?

I know from personal experience that bullies are adept at covering up their actions. Most bullies in the workplace are in leadership positions and as such they are in a position of power over their employees. It is also my experience that senior management will overlook the actions of these bullies. Sometimes the bully has a friend or friends on the senior team. Sometimes the bully has some knowledge or other resources that the organization believes it needs.

I once worked in a hospital that condoned the actions of a bully who was in a senior medical position. In fact he was head of psychiatry and he was really something to observe. He was an equal opportunity bully too…bullying medical staff, nurses, social workers, patients and family members.

What was interesting about this situation was that the senior management team knew about this man’s abusive behavior and chose not to do anything about it. In fact when I mentioned it to someone I was told that this psychiatrist brought in a considerable amount of research money and was well connected in ways that benefited the hospital.

Eventually the management team couldn’t ignore the fact that nurses were calling in sick (refusing to work with him) and his bad reputation eventually began to effect the hospital’s reputation…but the bullying went on for years before he was fired.

So, here we are again at the beginning of a new school year and there is a lot of attention on preventing bullying in the school system.

In a previous post I wrote about the “sea of pink” campaign that began in Nova Scotia and spread around the world. This  campaign was started by two grade 12 students (Travis Price and David Shepherd) who witnessed a bullying episode and decided to do something about it.

This story deserves repeating again:

“…on the 1st day of school a grade 9 boy wore pink polo shirt to school. He was singled out and targeted by bullies. Travis and David witnessed this attack and decided to do something about it. They decided to wear pink t-shirts to school the following day in a show of solidarity. They also emailed their fellow students and urged them all to wear pink. The result was a SEA OF PINK…pink shirts are far as the eye could see. Of course the bullying stopped!”

Now, every year on February 25th people around the world wear pink to raise awareness about bullying.

So, why can’t we do this in the workplace? What about using a different colour? Any ideas? White for peace? Maybe I’ll start something…what do you think?

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you next week.  Lesley!



  1. Hi Lesley,
    Interesting article and very timely as well. As you well said it in the article and also what I’ve learned from my own reading, it appears most employers are not willing to deal with bullying at work place issue. Here’s a link that reflects on similar studies in US.

    There’s a non-profit agency in BC called No Bully for Me and is ran by two enthusiasts Karen and Stephen who created a website designated to fighting bullying.

    They also provide workshops and research on the subject. Apparently, they were swamped with the responses from the readers, mostly victims of bullying in the workplace. Bullying has a profound effect on those who were attacked and many readers were seeking counselling or groups for support. Unfortunately, the agency is unable to provide such personal support at the current time. Still, recognizing the issue is the first step toward the healing!

    Thank you for the article!

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