Workplace bullies rarely face consequences for their bullying behaviors. More often than not, targets get dismissed, discounted, or flat-out ignored, which of course sides with the bully. Top-level executives most often support higher level managers over non-supervisory workers, leaving workplace bullying targets completely unprotected.
“Protective support prevents punishment for bullies and blocks accountability. Of course over time, protecting bullies sustains a workplace culture that is bullying-prone and unsafe for prospective targets. Protection ensures that bullying continues with impunity,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) in their 2013 poll.
The percentage of workplace bullying cases involving bully protection
In nearly 94 percent of workplace bullying cases, polled targets and witnesses said the bully had protection against punishment: either a higher-ranking manager, an executive or owner, HR, or a supervisor.
WBI calls the higher ranking supporters “executive sponsors.” They shield bullies from accountability and override or interfere with honest investigations.
“A supervisor was credited as the source of support in 12 percent of cases, suggesting that that was the proportion of cases involving worker-on-worker bullying. The supervisor took sides, aiding and abetting one of the two actors, and it wasn’t the target,” adds WBI.