Senior executives don’t think workplace bullying is a serious problem according to 76 percent of polled workplace bullying targets, says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) in a 2013 poll. “The basis for doubt is that targets typically attempted (unsuccessfully, according to other WBI surveys) to have senior management act as if it were serious,” explains WBI.
In a poll of business leaders, WBI found the opposite perception to be true: 68 percent of polled business leaders considered workplace bullying a serious problem.
Why the drastic difference in perception?
“Executives chose what they consider ‘socially desirable’ opinions,” explains WBI. “To report otherwise would make them appear unsympathetic.” In other words, when we reward image rather than actual behavior, we find people at the top who claim to support a positive image, but their actions don’t match the ideals they want to be viewed as holding. Sounds all too familiar?
A more optimistic possibility is that business leaders are catching onto the idea that workplace bullying hurts businesses. While our individual stories show workplace bullying as alive and real, the trend of workplace bullying incidents is what indicates an evolving culture. And changes in incidents could include such factors as more awareness of what workplace bullying is, more comfort in admitting to being a target, or increased action from business leaders.