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If you tell anyone, I will destroy you- Bullying and Workplace harassment in Corporate India

We all experience bullying and workplace harassment at some point in our professional lives. Very few stand up and complain. It takes great courage for an individual to stand up for what is right and ethical. Unfortunately, many remain silent and tend not to voice their struggle. The great corporate India is not only a hub for exporting CEOs overseas. Perhaps many research studies found horrifying incidents of bullying, corporate wrongdoing, abuse of power and workplace harassment.

Corporate India is known for increasing Indian’s GDP, producing hundreds of silked workers, providing employment opportunities to the young India and the many humanitarian work it does to impact the society. But on the flip side the same corporate India is known for serial harassers, sexual predators, bullies and a mob of horrible bosses. Many stories are buried down due to fear of retaliation or survivors being labelled as troublemakers, forceful resignations, being tagged as overly sensitive etc. There are many gripping stories which reveal many testimonies of young Indian workforce.

The bully can be your boss, your colleague, or someone from a higher rank in the organization’s hierarchy. However small or big the designation or the power attached, the bully has no right to offend someone with derogatory words or actions. It is a violation, strictly against the code of ethics which the organization boast about and it severely affects the morale and dignity of the employee. Organizations and the employees should not remain silent about these issues.

Many stories came up when asked employees in a reputed MNC’s, regarding work place harassment. Ram(identity hidden for employee safety) revealed how he worked hard from the day he joined the organization. His boss asked for his loyalty and Ram was fully unaware of the consequences he has to face. Loyalty came with a price. Promotions, recognition for minimal work and great performance appraisal. It also came with strings attached, passing employee’s private conversations to the boss, supporting the boss when complaints are raised against him and being accomplice in many unfair practices which are against the organization’s code of ethics etc. Ram after a time realized he was being unethical to his Job and conscience and resisted his boss strategy and turned against him. For this, the boss made unfair accusations against Ram, gave poor performance appraisal and ultimately fired him for no just cause. These were the similar incidents reported in many organizations.

Many managers in most of the organizations bring up sexual innuendo into conversations with female employees. These derogatory remarks, making physical advancements get more explicit and disturbing over time. In many situations many female employees are asked for sexual favors in return for promotions and easy jump in pay scales. Most employees remain silent on these issues hoping they would die down without confrontation or the boss realizing his mistakes. If the employee comes out and complain, the stakes are as high as, “If you tell anyone, I will destroy you”. Many such horrifying incidents takes place behind the closed doors.

As the new norm of work from home continues, many employees are subjected to verbal abuse from their bosses to produce more and more deliverables. They are tortured mentally and physically to overperform and if they fail to do so, they are forced to resignation. Tony (identity hidden) shared his experience on how his boss verbally abused him for underperforming on days when there were genuine power outages, technological glitches etc. Every move of the employee is recorded purposefully and Tony lost his mental sanity because of his boss skeptical behavior. He confronted his boss treating him like a machine.

How many other such bosses are there in corporate India? When the survivor remains silent, it gives the bully an opportunity to continue the behavior which might affect many more. In every organization, there are Human resources to listen and support. But how many organizations are taking serious actions to stop the bully?

What if the bully is protected? Most of the allegations on managers are dismissed as it hampers the organizations reputation in the market. In such cases, expose the bully, start forums and discussions. Inform your colleagues in a professional way rather treating such incidents as a gossip. Take the initiative to collect similar references and reach out to the HR. If the immediate HR fails to take action, do not stop the fight, reach out to the next level of hierarchy until justice is rendered. Many employees do not bother to read the terms and conditions of the Job, code of ethics and sign the employment contracts. Hence every employee should judiciously read the terms and then sign the agreement. It is highly recommended to check; if the employment contract mentions disputes to be settled in private forums to avoid lawsuits against the firm. This is a strict NO.

What if the bully retaliates? Retaliation can be in the form of not being eligible for promotions, unjustified performance appraisal and finally forceful exist. In these situations, one must not lose heart, courage and especially willingness to fight back. Know the law and reach out for help. If you think hiring a law firm is a costly affair, expose the bully and the company to the media. Employees should seek for legitimate professional advice to expose the wrong doer. There are regulatory bodies and employee rights organizations to support and advice. Don’t hide your stories. There is nothing worse than losing one’s dignity and self-respect. It is the bully who needs to be ashamed. Remind the bully that there are laws and punitive damages that can be served against the organization and the bully owes an apology.

Organizations should remain unbiased in these situations, conduct rigorous investigations, send anonymous surveys to be filled by employees regarding the behavior of the bully. Above all people around witnessing these situations should stand up and take a stand. If the law is not helping, employees should remain true to their conscience.

Above all Mr. Bully, Enough is Enough.  




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Tags: Corporate India Bad Boss Bullying Workplace Harassments


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