Workplace bullying is NEVER okay

4 May 2023

Vanessa Sampson, Head of People & Culture at Locale, explores the impact of the findings of Dominic Raab’s resignation and why there’s still more to do when it comes to workplace culture and erasing bullying. 

2022-05-03_ Vanessa Headshot_Website Optimised

If you have been watching the news recently, it will have been pretty difficult to have missed the furore around Dominic Raab’s exit from his role as Deputy Prime Minister. 

The concerning circumstances around Dominic Raab have not been helped by the tone of his resignation – unapologetic, petty and short-sighted - and that of the Prime Minister’s response, which lacks nuance and basically screams of political fence-sitting; having pledged to lead a government of ‘integrity, professionalism and accountability,’ his actions and statements in recent weeks have evidenced anything but.   

But this is not just about politics. This episode highlights the systemic challenges that remain when it comes to bullying in the workplace – specifically when it sits at the very top.  For those of us who work in the real world daily, we know the value of building and maintaining safe and collaborative workplaces, and how a critical part of this is nurturing and rewarding constructive critique and questioning of the status quo to innovate and improve. Worryingly, Raab’s resignation letter attacks exactly that notion, as well as somehow suggesting that some form of bullying is acceptable to get the best quality work ‘when times call for it’.

As someone who is passionate about understanding and communicating robust standards of beneficial workplace culture, that someone of Mr Raab’s position and influence can still be so ignorant of the responsibility he holds to lead by example, baffles me. Surely him being promoted to a position where he not only holds people’s wellbeing in his hands, but by extension also that of an entire country, should have meant that he was critically assessed and his strengths and abilities to hold such a position, evaluated? If culture is ‘the way we do things around here’, then a leadership team that either models, or does nothing to inhibit, anti-social behaviour builds a culture where no one is safe, and all bets are off. And at a time when we are encouraging people to be authentic and bring their full selves to work, we need to learn how to better navigate a whole new framework around the extent to which people can live their identities in the workplace. 

Equally as public has been the fallout of a toxic culture at CBI, with some on the bold side predicting this will mean the end of the once most powerful business lobby. Bullies try to isolate for easier control and manipulation. They need the environment to confirm their narrative, driven by fear, they will do anything to make it fit. The deeper and more primal the fear, the more extreme its expression. Leaving inappropriate behaviour unchecked is akin to enabling it. 

What does it take to drive a positive culture that served your employees and your business? Leadership who is boldly compassionate. Egos that are left firmly at the gates, are replaced by a willingness to be curious, vulnerable, collaborative and outspoken. Consistently applying your values through robust and informed decision-making, from recruitment to development and progression to exit. An environment where challenges and conflict are positively managed for growth and innovation; evidence of behaviour that empowers individuals and teams to see conflict as a natural by-product of growth, who feel safe and informed to speak up and engage in constructive discussions, who are encouraged to seek conversations to resolve issues.

Join our mailing list

* indicates required

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices.

Future-proof your building with Locale today