SCENARIO 1: Becky the Slut
Becky always seemed to grow fast for her age, and her breasts started to develop earlier than the rest of the girls in her class. One day, the junior high bully James gave her a little shove in the hallway and remarked, “Look at Becky and her tits! She’s a slut and a whore!” while a few of the other boys with James laughed. Becky went to her school’s guidance counselor in tears and told Mr. Williams what had happened. Mr. Williams simply told her, “Boys will be boys. Just ignore him. By the way, you don’t want everyone in the school to think you are a tattletale, do you?”
Fast forward 15 years. Becky is an attractive woman with a degree in accounting working in the Finance department of a large company. She is working late one evening when her boss calls her into his office and shuts the door. He stands very close to her, actually lightly touches her breasts and tells Becky that he really likes her and wants to give her a very good review at the end of the year. He makes it quite obvious what he is expecting from her in order for her to get that “good review.” Becky decides to not report this harassment, she always remembers what her junior high guidance counselor told her and she certainly does not what to get the reputation as the office squealer. She now dreads coming to work every day and her productivity has declined. In fact, it seems that in her office, a few other attractive women in the accounting department are distracted from their work, and the Human Resources department and the senior leadership are puzzled at the declining productivity and morale among the staff. They don’t have a clue.
SCENARIO TWO – Charles the Sissy
Charles was always a small for his age and not very good at athletics, but he excelled in music. The band director actually asked Charles to play a trumpet solo at the next class assembly at his junior high. The next day, a small group of bullies shoved Charles against the locker and the ringleader Robert laughed and said, “This is the little faggot that stays in his room all weekend playing his little trumpet and with dolls.” Charles did not know what to do, he was quite conflicted and did not want to be a “sissy tattletale.” But he went to the guidance counselor Mrs. Thomas and reported what happened. She told Charles that he did the right thing and was very brave to report it, since bullying is something that can damage a lot of people and has to be stopped. Later Mrs. Thomas met with Robert and his parents, enrolled Robert in an excellent three week anti-bullying class which included Robert addressing his own insecurity issues, and told his parents that if Robert was ever involved in another bullying incident, he would be expelled from the school permanently. Not wanting to have to fork out $15,000 per year to place Robert in a private school, his parents were quite stern with him when they got home.
Fast forward 15 years. Charles and Robert now work at the same company. When Charles’ boss mocked him for not participating on the office’s softball team, and asked him if he was a girl or a man, Charles reported it to the HR department. An investigation found that this manager had bullied a few other employees and hence fired. Robert (the former junior high bully) was promoted to be the new manager and he worked hard to make everyone on the team felt welcomed and valued for their individual contributions within the department. Productivity increased and at one department meeting, Robert even shared about the time he was once a bully in junior high, but how he went to special class where he learned that treating everyone with respect leads to better relationships and a better life for everyone.
SUMMARY: Corporations should care about and support anti-bullying campaigns in schools. Today’s unaddressed bullies become tomorrow’s harassers and bullies in the workplace, and destroy corporate morale and productivity.
LINK TO LAST YEAR’S BLOG which includes several resources.