November 3rd, 2014
We have long said that mediation is the wrong tool to resolve workplace bullying problems. Mediators are inserting themselves into bullying in growing numbers as if the situations originated in traditional conflict. But bullying involves violence (non-physical varieties), an unequal level of power (real or perceived), and contempt by one person for the other. No serious problem solver believes a credible and fair middle ground can be found. Why further compromise the already compromised target? It is cruel.
A reporter tipped me off to the spring 2014 GitHub scandal. One of the former co-founders, Tom Preston-Werner, had given his CEO position to the other co-founder, Chris Wanstrath in January. GitHub engineer, Julie Ann Horvath, alleged sexual harassment by one of the company founders and his wife and quit. The wife’s threats (of informing husband’s decision making, of engaging spies at company, and intimidating and verbally attacking her) might have been more bullying than harassment, given its same-gender nature. The venture capitalist who invested $100 million in GitHub defended Preston-Werner. Preston-Werner resigned. Wanstrath cleared Preston-Werner of illegal harassment but did say “mistakes” were made.
Of interest to us here at WBI are the tweets Horvath sent recalling the actions of the GitHub-paid mediator who obviously was sent to protect GitHub.