As Antibullying Awareness Week draws to a close, I wanted to tell my story.
I was bullied in one of my roles within the industry. I wanted to raise a grievance but it was intimated to me by Human Resources that if I wanted to continue my career with that employer, I should not make the complaint official. However, the bullying escalated and I felt I had no alternative but to go down the offical route. At the time one of the directors said to me “I do hope you know what you are doing Suzanne”. What I didn’t know is that I as good as wrote my own resignation letter by making such a complaint.
The complaint progressed to mediation, at which an NUJ rep was present. The NUJ rep described the incidents as “A classic case of workplace bullying” and at the end of the mediation we were asked to draw a line under the incidents and never mention them again. I was told I could not tell my colleagues what had happened, nor could anyone know that we’d had a mediation meeting about the bullying. The bully was not disciplined in any way – a complete endorsement of their behaviour by my employer of the time.
When I arrived back at my desk, within two days the bullying had resumed, leaving me no alternative but to resign my position. The NUJ declined to proceed with the case, even though there were over 120 supporting documents.
I know from the clients I have helped over the years, that my experience is not unique. That very often when somone is bullied at work, it is they who are forced to leave the company and not the bully. Frequently the bully is often ‘rewarded’ for their actions by being promoted or being given different, sometimes more favourable responsibilities, but rarely are they removed from the company altogether.
This must change. Employers need to treat bullying with the same severity that they treat other gross acts of misconduct. We need to eradicate the bullies from all industries, not just publishing. Bullying is not acceptable on any level: we must never let the bullies win.
Are you affected by bullying in the workplace? If so it helps to talk to someone not directly involved. You can read about the work I do to help others overcome workplace bullying here