One of my fundamental beliefs in life has always been that people, all people, are created equal and deserve fair treatment. I am passionate about equality and justice and even though I have seen and recorded plenty of examples of unjust behaviour it still distresses me when human beings deliberately mistreat others. As far as I am concerned, abuse of any sort is wrong, and bullying is undoubtedly a form of abuse.
I spent a lot of time researching, reflecting on and writing about workplace bullying, as well as making presentations at academic conferences and seminars before completing my PhD in cultural policy and management at City University, London.
I wrote Bullying in the Arts which was published by Gower Publishing in 2011.
For the last two years I have engaged in discussions with professional arts practitioners, including Equity members, and academics at the School of Arts at City University and Birkbeck College. I have also had fascinating ‘conversations’ in a number of online groups with other people from a variety of employment sectors who are interested in bullying and harassment.
It seems that 2013 is turning into a year when workplace bullying has been thrust into the limelight here in the UK, not only because of revelations about bullying behaviour and abuse at the BBC, but also because increasingly people in many different employment sectors are refusing to be subjected to the demeaning and destructive treatment that bullying represents.
Every day I receive several bulletins containing news stories about bullying from around the world via Google alerts. I have to restrict the number to 10 alerts on each occasion otherwise my mailbox would be full.
Often I am approached by people who are experiencing bullying in their workplace and don’t know what to do or where to turn for help and advice. I do what I can to point them towards sources of assistance.
Dignity and respect at work should be a fact, not a favour – a right, not a privilege.
Of course, there are those who say: Bullying is everywhere. It’s a fact of life. You’ll never change things – however this kind of defeatist thinking doesn’t make sense to me.
For centuries slavery was widespread – evidence for it pre-dates written records and it was practised in almost every ancient society and civilisation. That didn’t make it right. Now illegal in every country in the world, campaigners are still working hard to combat forms of modern slavery, which sadly still exist in some places, but the point is that the majority of today’s cultures reject it as inhuman and morally wrong.
I feel exactly the same way about oppressive behaviour of any kind and the emerging cause and effect links between childhood bullying, domestic abuse, adolescent violence such as date rape, sexual harassment and workplace bullying have not convinced me otherwise.
That’s why I have worked with The Art of Possibility to create new workshops on dealing with bullying. We wanted to create a safe space in which people can learn more about the issue during the presentation and share as much or as little as they want to during the session that follows. To protect personal anonymity, people attending, and the organisations they work for, need not be named unless they are happy with this.