Saturday, 5 December 2015

Bullying and victim blaming.

Victim blaming or holding the victim/target responsible for the breakdown or failure to resolve the workplace bullying issue is perpetrated by several schools of thought. We find this interesting merely because a few years ago a women wearing a short skirt was seen as encouraging sexual assault and a disobedient wife was seen as responsible for being beaten by her violent and frustrated husband. Times have moved on considerably in the understanding of abuse. Such forms of thinking would now be abhorrent. Bullying suffers the same taboos.

The victim blaming culture used to excuse or at least minimise the responsibility of the employer, bully abuser, is convenient. It shores up old fashioned and outdated modes of working, such as the master and servant model. Also,  it protects senior staff, managers, directors, CEO's and shareholders from having to change workplace models. Moreover, victim blaming is a way of avoiding bad publicity. Hence the desperation of some companies to pay large sums of money for the problem to go away. Compromise agreements may appear to protect companies and employers from financial difficulties but it is at the expence of justice and a moral obligation for justice to be seen to be done and transparent.

The recent enquiry that put the ambulence service in the UK into special measures and identified bullying as a feature of the system,  is recent cogent evidence of the need for transparency.

Many companies firmly place the issue of bullying into the hands of Human resources. They are satisfied provided there is an ACAS compliant disciplinary procedure and a bullying policy somewhere on the intranet. This is insufficient.

The workplace is far more sophisticated than simple models of hierarchy and so are employees and the  general public. The more information that can be brought into the public domain to highlight bullying at work, the better.

Victim blaming is an outmoded concept that excuses the bully and protects profit over people, when in the real costs of bullying in sickness, litigation, bad publicity and low productivity, prove the reverse is the true picture.

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