Ian Dodds Consulting Change Font size:

Bullying is bad for business performance

 IDC's monthly viewpoints have consistently highlighted situations which result in people feeling excluded by organisations. Bullying is one of these, and it is this month's subject because to my great dismay IDC's consultants have experienced this from a member of a diversity team in a public sector client organisation.

Persistent criticism, ignoring or deliberately excluding people, undervaluing effort, changing targets without discussion or notice and setting impossible deadlines are all examples of bullying cited by the HSE and the Andrea Adams Trust.

IDC's consultants experienced all of these behaviours from one particular individual. Had it not been from a member of a diversity team I might have considered it just part of the range of good and bad experiences that come with providing services to clients. But surely members of a diversity team have a duty to behave inclusively in an exemplary way with all the people they interact with.

This is because bullying leads those on the receiving end to lose self-esteem and ultimately question their own self-worth. Clearly, this is likely to have a negative impact on their performance. They are likely to withdraw and disengage and, in extreme cases, leave their jobs.

It does not matter that the behaviour experienced by IDC's consultants was probably unintentional. It is ethically and morally wrong for one person to behave in such a way towards another, and even more so if that person works in the field of diversity and should be most aware that diversity is founded upon the concept of respecting and valuing others.

In our work, bullying and harassment are sometimes not considered by clients to be important aspects of the diversity and inclusion agenda. However, they are and should be; because they cause exclusion and distress to those who experience them. Last month we considered micro-inequities, which have a similar impact. Both these and bullying should be mainstream considerations for diversity practitioners, because of the negative impact they have, both on individuals and on business performance.

IDC's consultants have considerable experience of enabling clients to create a working environment where bullying and harassment are minimised.

Incidentally, in this instance IDC withdrew its consultants from the project and formally raised the issue with the client. I believed it was important for IDC as a diversity consultancy to take a stand on inappropriate behaviour by someone employed by a client in a diversity role.

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