The harassment not making the news

Sexual harassment continues to exist on a grand scale in the American workforce.  And, yes, the covers under which the perpetrators have been hiding are being pulled away. Forcefully. Finally. 

But there’s an even bigger story that is not being told, mainly because it does not have the same political and social momentum behind it.  

Most workplace hostility and abuse are not sexual in nature.  As sexual predators are flushed out by the brave souls of the Me Too movement, nonsexual abusers are left to continue eroding the quality of organizational cultures across the United States with little risk.

On January 25, 2018, I’ll be presenting a workshop titled Identify and Eradicate – Ending Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Workplace Abuse.  The event will be held at the Michigan State University Henry Center for Executive Development.  Please sign-up soon as seats are still available.

During the event, we will be discussing the phenomenon of sexual harassment and hostility as symptoms of a larger disease.  By understanding what causes workplace cultures and employee morale to collapse under their own weight, we can improve our vigilance, producing healthier work environments that keep people productive, happy, and emotionally secure.

Imagine a young man, recently graduated from college, who reports for his first day of work at a large engineering firm.  He is 23 years old and Caucasian.  His new boss is very smart and respected as an expert in his field, making significant contributions to the reputation and bottom line of the company.  But he is also an abusive personality who has a long history of mistreating young employees and commenting on the need for them to “pay their dues” before they earn his respect.  Over the next six months, the new employee endures remarkably rude and offensive treatment from his boss.  The young man eventually quits, believing that he has no options at his disposal to improve the situation or to be taken seriously by upper-level management.

In the above scenario, there is no illegal harassment or discrimination taking place.  There is no discrimination based on sex, religion, race, skin color, ethnicity, old age, or any other class protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Simply put, the boss is a complete jerk, and the company allows him to get away with it.  It is an abusive, hostile work environment.

This kind of gross mistreatment of employees by both incompetent supervisors and misbehaving coworkers remains pervasive in many of today’s organizations, and will likely remain pervasive as long as it falls under our radar as we focus intently on the very serious problem of sexual harassment.

The key to protecting the mental and emotional security of employees in our organizations is to vigorously demand environments where people are treated with dignity and respect across the board.  

The good news is that you don’t have to be a great leader to make this happen.  Some very specific strategies can have the effect of exposing abusive personalities and rendering them incapable of creating catastrophic damage to people, teams, and organizations seeking to maximize their fullest potential.  

None of us have the time or energy to be poisoned by abusers in our places of work.  

So, let’s make our places of work poisonous to abusers.  There’s a way.

John Collins is a High-Stakes Leadership Consultant & Executive Coach at Critical Victories near Lansing, Michigan.  He is an active speaker, writer, coach, and consultant focusing on people, teams, and organizations seeking to thrive in high-pressure environments.  Learn more about John and Critical Victories at





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