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Real Business : Issue 3 2012
evidence showing younger, newer or trainee employees may be targeted more because they are perceived as less powerful. ese employees are also more likely not to report bullying because they are concerned about their career prospects. ere is also evidence that many victims of bullying, regardless of age or length of tenure, do not report it because they expect nothing will be done or because they feel humiliated. is is not an unfounded view, as evidence shows that when bullying is reported it is quite usual for nothing to be done to the perpetrator, while the person who reported the bullying may be perceived as weak or even moved to another department. The right to a safe workplace Workplace bullying is a serious problem, but many organisations are failing to deal with it. Evidence suggests that many workplaces are not able or willing to deal with bullying. Of course, an organisation cannot be responsible for every action of every employee, but it is responsible for doing everything possible to provide a safe work environment and, if allegations of bullying are made, to ensure that they are addressed in a timely and fair manner. One of the reasons bullying is not dealt with e ectively is that it involves not only physical but also psychological abuse, making it hard to identify, describe, control and investigate. Dealing with bullying is di cult, especially for new employees who are more likely to be targeted, less likely to adequately understand the policies and culture of the workplace and more likely to lack power or powerful allies. If you experience bullying some of the following may help: If possible, tell the person or persons bullying you their behaviour is o ensive and you want it stopped. Keep records and details of any incidents, including witnesses. Speak to people you trust, in and outside the workplace. Speak to a counsellor or local OHS organisation. Report it using the complaint mechanism of your workplace (this may include reporting it to human resources or OHS). Seek legal advice. Remember you have the right to be treated fairly, with respect and to feel safe at work. LATELY, FREQUENT calls have been made to address an epidemic of bullying. While it is unclear whether we in fact face an epidemic, it is obvious that bullying is an important ethical and legal issue in the workplace, with severe negative consequences for individuals and organisations. In Australia bullying is covered by anti-discrimination and occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation. In Victoria, further legislation was passed last year that makes serious bullying a criminal o ence punishable by up to 10 years in jail. is legislation is referred to as "Brodie's law", for Brodie Panlock, a 19-year-old waitress who committed suicide after persistent workplace bullying. Research shows up to 70 per cent of workers have been exposed to bullying, and the Australian Productivity Commission estimates bullying and the physical and psychological harm it causes costs up to A$36 billion a year. Further research shows bullying is related to stress, depression, anxiety and physical and psychological illness. Given the prevalence of bullying and its consequences, an Australian review on the nature, extent and causes of workplace bullying is under way, as are considerations to adopt Brodie's law nationally. Bullying is di cult to de ne and identify. It has to do with behaviour intended to distress physically or EVA TSAHURIDU Policy Adviser -- Professional Standards and Governance for CPA Australia WEBLINK See what governments are doing to combat bullying at work at cpaaustralia.com.au/realbusiness MANY VICTIMS OF BULLYING DO NOT REPORT IT BECAUSE THEY EXPECT NOTHING WILL BE DONE. GETTY IMAGES psychologically. Some examples of bullying are verbal abuse, humiliation, exclusion from work activities or withholding information needed for the performance of one's job. Con ict and disagreement will occur at work, but when behaviour becomes o ensive, repeated, non-reciprocal and does not respect a person's dignity, a distinction can be made between bullying and a con ict. Bullying is about repeated behaviour that causes, or has the potential to cause, harm. While not every criticism or unpleasant experience at work is bullying, it has a lot to do with control and power and in many cases the aim of bullies is to dominate. is is supported by 6 REAL BUSINESS ISSUE 3, 2012 THE ETHICIST SAYS
Issue 1 2012
2013 Issue 1