Surely not Amnesty International? The sacred cow of human rights groups? The organisation that stands up to the world's totalitarian oppressors and fights for people who have been subjected to the worst forms of governmental intimidation is itself run by bullies?
Yep. According to reports this week, one in three Amnesty staff say they have felt bullied at work, the organisation culture has been described as a toxic one of secrecy and mistrust, and there have been deaths by suicide. Five of the seven-member senior management team have gone.
Well, if that pack of saints is doing it, maybe there's something to this workplace bullying after all. There's certainly an awful lot of it about.
Round these parts in recent times there have been charges of bullying – not always upheld - at Wellington Zoo, the Retirement Commission (cleared), Pike River Coal management. Wellington bus company Tranzurban. Whanganui District Council, the police – and, of course, Parliament. On the face of it, bullying is just the latest management fad.
There may be a wannabe component to this apparent enthusiasm for intimidation. If the President of the United States keeps not just his staff but media, political opponents and other world leaders in line by bullying, then it's probably the way to go.
Workplace bullying needs to be distinguished from the more traditional recreational or domestic variety. The key difference is that it involves your livelihood. It's that much harder to follow the schoolyard advice and stand up to bullies (apparently, they just cave in if you do, though anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise) if it puts your job at risk.
The single biggest reason we have workplace bullying is that we have workplaces. Businesses of all sizes from SME's to multinationals are set up to be competitive rather than co-operative. It's how they survive. It's economically efficient to have people working under a cloud of managed fear. It means they are less likely to complain about having to cope with their poor conditions.
In parallel with this trend, human resources departments have grown rapidly. Naturally, they want to keep their jobs, too. So, although it's not spelt out in their job descriptions, it is their role to gloss over bullying and protect their bosses from complaints. They are virtuosi of obfuscation and masters of the technique of delay, delay, delay until everyone either forgets or gives up.
HR personnel are employed by the bullies not the victims. They may even feel a bit bullied themselves. It's much easier for them to manage out a complainant through an "employment process" than attempt to change their bosses' behaviour.
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Which means no one ever gets around to identifying, let alone addressing, the core issue with workplace bullying: the boss who is bullying you is almost certainly being bullied even worse by their boss. It's a natural sequence of intimidation, like a version of the food chain, where every animal in the ecosystem feasts on the one that's weaker than it.
And that's how things will stay until businesses are run in a way that doesn't encourage people at the top to put defending their own positions ahead of fostering the people they manage.
Everyone in today's workplaces is under enormous pressure. Everyone has to do more with less, work longer and harder, not for overtime or time off, but just so they can keep their job.
Workplace bullying is a misuse of power. Inevitably when you give people a little power, unless they are confident and secure in their own selves, from parking marshals to politicians, they will use it to dominate others. Parliament, therefore, is the natural home of the bully.