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WBI BLOG

Nexus of Workers' Rights, Research & Social Policies



January 15th, 2018

Truthout: Workplace Bullying Affects Nearly Half of US Workers. It’s Time We Did Something About It

Workplace Bullying Affects Nearly Half of US Workers. It’s Time We Did Something About It
By Micahel Arria, Truthout, Jan. 11, 2018

Many are hoping that 2017 represented a turning point in the fight against workplace harassment, as the #MeToo moment put a spotlight on sexual misconduct. Now some labor advocates are hoping that the momentum of #MeToo helps to fuel an additional campaign against a different and overlapping type of harassment: workplace bullying.

While there’s been increased attention paid to the bullying of children in recent years, there hasn’t been the same kind of focus on bullying among adults, but statistics indicate that it’s a major problem. According to one 2008 study, nearly 75 percent of participants have witnessed workplace bullying at their job and 47 percent have been bullied at some point in their career. Another 27 percent said they had been bullied within the last 12 months. In a 2014 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 72 percent of the respondents said that their employer either condones or encourages the behavior.

There’s no universal definition of it, but the WBI defines it as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is:

– Threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or

– Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done, or

– Verbal abuse.

WBI sprang from a campaign that was started by Ruth and Gary Namie, a husband-and-wife team of psychologists. In the late 1990s, Ruth worked in a psychiatric clinic and was bullied by her supervisor. To their surprise, the Namies discovered there was very little Ruth could do about the situation. Employment discrimination laws existed, but they didn’t cover things like your boss screaming at you daily or a co-worker trying to sabotage your imminent promotion. If you hadn’t been targeted for abuse because of your race, sex or national origin, or because you blew the whistle on something related to the company, there wasn’t a legal avenue for you to pursue.

The Namies also discovered that there were no organizations working on the issue in the United States, so they started the Work Doctor at the WBI website, where they wrote about the issue, drawing heavily on existing research from countries where it was taken seriously (such as Sweden, Belgium and France). They also created a toll-free hotline for workers to call, counseled thousands of people on the issue, and hosted the first US conference dedicated to the subject of workplace bullying.

At the end of 2001, the campaign moved from California to the state of Washington. At Western Washington University, Gary Namie taught the first US college course on workplace bullying, and the campaign evolved into WBI after a group of research students volunteered to do more survey research.
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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | Post Comment



December 31st, 2017

If wishing could make it happen – have an abuse-free 2018

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Posted in Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2 | Comments Off on If wishing could make it happen – have an abuse-free 2018



December 14th, 2017

A Congressional Bullying Example, Call to Resign

On a nearly daily basis, another man is accused of past sexual transgressions against a woman or women (Tavis Smiley and Russell Simmons among the most recent) and they lose their jobs or company.

Rather than commenting piecemeal on each new report we chose to write a short book on the topic. We are applying lessons from the MeToo phenomenon to workplace bullying situations. In this way, bullied targets can fight back capitalizing on MeToo successes. Watch for its Jan. 2018 release.

However one of the stories about politicians caught our attention. And it illustrates bullying, not simply sexual harassment.

The male idiot this time is U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX). He was targeted by Bill Maher in past years for being a stupid lawmaker. This is the same congressman who is the former owner of the domain “BlowMe.org,” and who admitted in 2014 to “having wet dreams” about a staffer.

Now CNN has details of his abusive conduct while in office directed toward both women and men. The source is his former communications director Michael Rekola.

Rekola said that Farenthold routinely exploded with rage and anger, slamming his fists down, swept everything off his desk, leaving staffers to clean it up. He called staffers names — idiot or f**ktard. Rekola described the work environment as so toxic and stressful that he suffered a stomach ailment causing him to vomit daily. This, of course, is very familiar to bullied targets.

According to Rekola, Farenthold routinely made lewd comments about the appearance of women including reporters and lobbyists, remarking on the size of women’s breasts and buttocks. There were references to the “redhead patrol,” something which was also mentioned in the lawsuit Farenthold settled with over $80 million taxpayer dollars. Apparently Blake has a thing for redheads, or so he would like us to think.

To appease the MeToo proponents demanding his head, Farenthold has agreed to not run for re-election. That may well not be sufficient, given the zeitgeist. Farenthold must resign. This behavior is an unnacceptable abuse of power whether directed toward men or women.

What was required of Al Franken must be required of any lawmaker accused of such abusive conduct with an underlying sexual harassment history. Let’s hear from Rep. Jackie Speier, Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

In these times, there is no other socially responsible position than to condemn abusive conduct.

This could strike a blow for justice for bullied, not just harassed, targets.

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December 13th, 2017

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year 2018

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December 13th, 2017

Relationship with sexual harassment

For women bullied at work only: Which statement best describes your experience?

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December 13th, 2017

WBI’s take on the #MeToo Sexual Harassment Revolution

An incomparable amount of public attention has been fixed on sexual harassment in the latter half of 2017. It’s a tsunami, a virtual revolution.

We are finishing a short book, a primer, a white paper on lessons and opportunities for bullied targets to apply from the new movement and changing employer landscape.

The publication will be available for sale at a nominal price in early January 2018.

Check back to get your copy.

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Posted in Books, Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Media About Bullying, Products & Services, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | Post Comment



December 13th, 2017

US News: Battling Bullying

Battling Bullying in the Workplace
By Rebecca Koenig, U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 13, 2017

It’s Monday morning and you’re filled with dread. You have to present research at the office this afternoon, but the gnawing feeling in your stomach isn’t just performance anxiety. Whenever you speak in front of your team, your boss interrupts to mock what you say. He questions your judgment, calls you an “idiot” and even mimics your voice in an unflattering way. Worse, a few of your co-workers have started to follow his lead, criticizing your work behind your back, and, increasingly, to your face.

You know your contributions are excellent – at least, you used to know. Lately, you haven’t been so sure.

Welcome to the world of workplace bullying. That’s right, the same sort of name-calling, intimidation and ostracism some children experience on the playground can take root among adults in their offices. When constructive criticism crosses a line, or a co-worker undermines your efforts, or your boss starts spreading rumors about your personal life, those are all examples of workplace bullying.

The effects of this abusive behavior can be serious: decreased self-esteem, worsened health and career deterioration. Read on to learn more about the phenomenon and how to combat it.

Understanding the Workplace Bullying Definition

Office bullying is defined as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment” that involves verbal abuse, work sabotage and/or humiliation and intimidation, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, a research and advocacy organization.

It may occur one-on-one (between two co-workers or a supervisor and subordinate) or in a group setting. The latter, in which multiple people gang up on one person, is known as “mobbing.”

Typically, a bully is “an aggressive person who strikes out at a particular person more than once over the course of months,” says Nathan Bowling, a psychology professor at Wright State University.

Workplace Bullying Statistics

One-fifth of American adults have directly experienced abusive conduct at work, according to a 2017 Workplace Bullying Institute survey of more than 1,000 people.

More than two-thirds of office bullies are men, and both men and women bullies target women at higher rates. Hispanics report higher levels of bullying than members of any other race.

It’s not uncommon to have a bully boss: 61 percent of targets reported bullying from people in more senior positions.
Continue reading this article… »

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November 14th, 2017

Ruettimann: HR Sucks

Written by Laurie Ruettimann after the Uber and Weinstein harassment scandals, but before Alabama’s Roy Moore’s misconduct.

Let’s Face It. HR is Powerless to Help Women Who are Harassed.
I’m a 20-year Veteran of HR. Something Needs to be Fixed

By Laurie Ruettimann, Vox.com, Oct 18, 2017

Women are a human resources nightmare.

The national conversation has once again turned to women’s experiences of sexual harassment. Nearly two weeks ago, the New York Times and the New Yorker published allegations of rape and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein against actresses in Hollywood and beyond. These experiences go back decades, and they are often, but not exclusively, related to women who met Weinstein in a professional capacity and felt pressured, out of fear for their safety and their careers, to comply.

In other words, these women were harassed in the workplace.

Earlier this year, Susan Fowler blew the whistle on sexism and harassment at Uber. Fowler and her colleagues complained to Uber’s leadership about the culture of harassment within the organization, and they were routinely dismissed by everybody — including the HR department.

It was only when Fowler wrote a viral blog post detailing her complaints that Uber got serious. The company hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an investigation to understand why so many women had such bad things to say about their employee experience. The report was damning, and more than 20 people were fired for inappropriate conduct, including allegations of sexual harassment and management ignoring multiple reports of sexist behavior and harassment. Former CEO Travis Kalanick, who was not accused of harassment himself but reportedly did nothing to stop it when allegations came in, as well as other sexist and toxic behavior, resigned under pressure from investors.

That could’ve been a watershed moment for women in the workforce, but it wasn’t. That’s because corporate America, and human resources in particular, don’t care about women. They care about minimizing risk to enhance the value of a brand, which ultimately leads to greater revenue and stronger profits.

In short, nobody cares about women. Once the shock-and-awe of Harvey Weinstein is over, very little will change for the average worker in America. I know this because I’m a 20-year veteran of human resources. In that time, I worked at big organizations like Pfizer, Kemper Insurance, and Monsanto. I left my corporate job in 2007 and started writing and speaking about HR in an attempt to transform the entire function. I haven’t done a very good job because HR still sucks.

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Posted in Employers Gone Wild: Doing Bad Things, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Tutorials About Bullying | 1 Comment



October 27th, 2017

A modern tale of witnesses doing nothing, except when …

Burger King and Nobully.org, an organization focused on stopping school bullying, produced a clever test. Which was more likely to compel engagement by Burger King restaurant adult customers — the public bullying of a high schooler by peers or “bullying” a sandwich? Spoiler alert: smashing the sandwich led to complaints 95% of the time, while only 12% of witnesses intervened. Watch until the end to see the care shown by the few who assisted the bullied boy.

Very instructive.

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Posted in Broadcasts: Video, TV, radio, webinars, Media About Bullying, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences, Tutorials About Bullying | Post Comment



October 24th, 2017

New WBI Instant Poll: Aftermath of Bullying

For those who lost a job to bullying, describe the aftermath.

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