The ‘Me Too’ campaign has highlighted the endemic issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately many other forms of bullying and discrimination are a daily reality for a large number of people, making their lives unbearable.
In recent weeks we have seen multiple stories of workplace bullying in Perth, Western Australia, from sports clubs to local and state government organisations. Theses stories have shown that no-one is immune from bullying, even the CEO of an organisation. Bullying and toxic workplace cultures are everywhere and are destroying peoples lives. The toll these behaviours have on the mental health of those we love is totally unacceptable.
I was subject to workplace bullying and discrimination early in my career and it took me years to recover from its effects. Legislation, policies and procedures are not really useful because they are mainly used after an event. I believe we should focus more on ways to prevent these unhealthy, bullying behaviours in the first place.
Hearing that an organisation is “identifying where it could change processes in human resources and project management” is not the answer. Changing a process will not bring about the culture change that is obviously required.
I believe a new approach is needed. One which acknowledges that all organisations are complex adaptive systems. Applying engineering models to organisation culture does not work because when people are involved, there isn’t a linear cause and effect relationship. We are not machines.
Let’s start where we are and make small changes to move us in the right direction. Identify the people who want to make things better and work with them to create small experiments. Use the insights gathered to amplify the things that are working and stop the things that are not.
Maybe it’s time to build on the ‘Me Too’ campaign and start a movement to change the systems which have produced a generation of bullies?
We would love to hear your thoughts.