NBC’s Today Show once again exposed the problem of workplace bullying on Tuesday, July 14, 2009, successfully featuring Colleen Robinson, a coordinator of the Illinois Healthy Workplace Advocates. Not since May 23, 2005 has Today acknowledged the Workplace Bullying Institute as the nation’s leading source of research on work abuse. The announcer said that 1 in every 8 workers was targeted by workplace bullying. Oddly, the study then quoted, the WBI-Zogby poll of 2007, tells us that 37% or one in every 3+ workers are targeted in the US at sometime in their careers.
Unfortunately, Today’s career expert offered naïve advice for targets of workplace bullying. She suggested: (Annotations are according to the Workplace Bullying Institute research :)
“You need to stand up for yourself.”
(You’ll likely get fired because we do not yet have law against status-blind work abuse.)
“There is the need and the responsibility for you to defend yourself.”
(Blame the victim if he doesn’t stand up for himself? During a major recession?)
“Bullies go after the weak.”
(Only weak people are targeted? Targets are statistically independent, competent, socially adept, and ethical whistleblowers.)
“It’s about power.”
(That’s why 72% of bullies are bosses!)
“They’re going to go after someone else.”
(You may be traumatized by witnessing others’ abuse.)
On this highest-rated television morning news and talk show, the topic of workplace bullying is covered once or twice a year. Because of the good work of WBI and Healthy Workplace Advocates, the tone used has become much more empathetic to our slowly-recognized problem.
In 2005, Today anchor, Matt Lauer, displayed a somewhat antagonistic attitude about the subject. He interviewed Dr. Gary Namie in the studio and seemed to question the very existence of workplace bullying with the typical attitude of denial given to an abuse long ignored by a society. Perhaps Lauer himself has been impacted by various controversies historically surrounding employees of Today, the third, longest-running TV program. (see Wikipedia: Today Show.)
More likely, our culture is finally evolving and awakening to the issue of work abuse and its high cost to society. Thanks to the Workplace Bullying Institute’s legislative campaign for the Healthy Workplace Bill, our words are out: workplace bullying indeed exists and indeed destroys lives at an enormous cost to our communities. There oughta be a law!