Network - Fall 2011 - (Page 11)

O Feature The Bully Wears Heels By Karan Smith ou thought you left the mean girls in the schoolyard. But in the workplace, we are most commonly victimized by other women, crippling our confidence and hurting our health. Susan Kennedy was poring over printed linens and handblocked wallpaper. The junior interior designer reached for another sample book, but a senior colleague snatched it first. When Kennedy fostered relationships with new clients at the Ottawa company, the co-worker would claim they were her old customers. And the woman, who was “built like a linebacker,” would wait until Kennedy was sitting at her desk before starting a conversation, then literally tower over her. “As I saw her approaching, my stomach would be full of dread that there was going to be a confrontation,” says Kennedy. “It was always intimidating.” The job was her first out of design school. And while she was excited about creating window treatments and selecting furniture for upscale homes, Kennedy soon found herself persistently bullied by her colleague. “She focused on me and made my first year a living hell,” Kennedy recalls. Y The Female Bully Beware the bully in heels. A U.S. survey found that 40 per cent of workplace heavies are women — surprising, given our allegedly maternal natures — and that they tend to pick on their XX-chromosome colleagues. In fact, women are the most common targets of bullies of either gender, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, based in Bellingham, Wash., which led the 2007 study. And while there aren’t any national statistics about bullying on the job in Canada, the experts say it’s prevalent here, too. Quebec, a leader in addressing the issue, receives around 2,000 complaints a year at its labour commission from non-union employees alone. What’s more, research has found that the damage caused by bullying can be more severe than that of other, more high-profile cubicle troubles. A Canadian study determined that victims of bullying were more stressed and withdrawn, and less satisfied with their jobs, than those of sexual harassment. “It’s one of the most important health problems in the workplace today,” confirms Angelo Soares, who teaches NETWORK O Fall 2011 O 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Network - Fall 2011

HRIA Chair’s Message
HRIA Membership
The Bully Wears Heels
Workplace of Respect — Addressing Violence & Bullying
Cyber-Bullying — A Workplace Issue
Workplace Bullying: North America’s Silent Epidemic
Workplace Bullying — An Employer’s Obligations
Seeing the Warning Signs — Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Legal Source
Ask Field Law
The HR Office True-life Tales from the HR Profession
Index of Advertisers

Network - Fall 2011