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Bullied at work? Study finds workplace harassment is on the rise

Bullied at work? Study finds workplace harassment is on the rise

1 in 3 LGBT face workplace bullying or are harassed

To coincide with Anti-Bullying Week in the UK (16-20 November), the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has issued a report on bullying in the workplace.

The organization says that it receives around 20,000 calls related to bullying and harassment each year, and has estimated that the annual cost to the economy in terms of lost productivity is around £18billion ($27billion/€25.5billion).

LGBT people are one of the group’s that it identifies as being particularly prone to harassment in the workplace, alongside public sector ethnic minority workers; professional and management occupations; women in traditionally male-dominated occupations; and workers with disabilities, among others.

The report, Seeking better solutions: tackling bullying and ill-treatment in Britain’s workplaces states that rather than diminishing, the problem is getting worse: In 1998, managers in 7% of workplaces reported grievances raised concerning bullying or harassment issues – this rose to 8% in 2004, and to 11% in 2011.

Sir Brendan Barber, Acas chair, said in a statement: ‘Our analysis reveals that bullying is on the rise in Britain and it is more likely to be found in organizations that have poor workplace climates, where this type of behavior can become institutionalized.

‘Callers to our helpline have experienced some horrific incidents around bullying that have included: humiliation; ostracism; verbal; and physical abuse.

‘Managers sometimes dismiss accusations around bullying as simply personality or management style clashes, while others may recognize the problem but lack the confidence or skills to deal with it.’

‘Anti-bullying workplace policies and managers with good people-management skills are essential to deal with the growing problem of bullying.’

The bullying of LGBT people at work is something that has been noted before by UK advocacy group, Stonewall. Alex Gwynne, Senior Account Manager with the organization, said: ‘Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are disproportionately affected by bullying and discrimination – at work, at school and at home.

‘It’s essential that people are not bystanders to bullying and teasing language, support victims of bullying and call out the perpetrators without putting themselves at risk. Anti-Bullying Week is a time to really reflect on that, and talk about how we can best work towards a world where all LGBT people are accepted without exception.’

Acas is not the only organization to mark Anti-Bullying Week. Trade union TUC also issued statistics on workplace harassment, which revealed that nearly a third of people have been bullied at work.

It said that in nearly three-quarters of cases (72%) the bullying is carried out by a manager, and that more than one in three (36%) of people who report being bullied at work leave their job because of it.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady told Gay Star Business: ‘LGBT workers are particularly badly affected by bullying at work. Prejudiced attitudes are at the root of this. Unions try both to protect the individual being bullied, and to bring about a workplace culture where such behavior is not tolerated.

‘We need support from workers and management alike to ensure that LGBT workers are safe and supported at work.’

Thomas Anderson, Founder and Director at Inclusive Networks called the Acas report ‘shocking’ and said it emphasized the need for employee network groups.

‘There is clearly lots to be done to change our workplace cultures where everyone can go to work and be treated the same, no matter our differences.’


Main image: © Stokkete |