It goes on. and on . . . and on . . . and ON! For pity's sake can we stop doing it? It's pathetic that grown up people are behaving like spiteful play-ground bullies. The latest case is Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin a lecturer in mathematics in UCD who was stalked by one of her older seepier blokier colleagues for two years from 2015-2017. Eventually she secured an injunction forbidding him to approach her. Ní Shúilleabháin can do the math to realise that 2017 is more than 2 years ago. This month she wrote about it in the Irish Times. And why not? We need to realise that bullying, intimidation and harrassment in college is not only a matter of protecting students. It means supporting and protecting anyone who is further down the pecking order than the emotionally crippled perps. Yes perpS because there's more than one; it's probably closer to say that there's one in every department of any substantive size.
In the wake of that new wave of indignation the President of UCD Andrew Deeks issued a reputational damage-limiting apology: In a statement, Prof Deeks said: "I am greatly saddened that one of our colleagues experienced such traumatic events over an extended period, and I apologise to Aoibhinn on behalf of UCD. I also apologise to other colleagues and students who have suffered such experiences while in our care." To which Dr Ní Shúilleabháin tweeted "I’m very surprised to be reading about an apology from UCD President Andrew Deeks, since I haven’t received one or any communication from him on this matter". That tells me that objectifying employees goes to the very top of the chain in UCD; t'bugger couldn't pick up the phone to speak directly to the actual person who had been made miserable and fearful on his watch. Because of policies, procedures and due process <ha!> which he endorsed. All he cared about is how shiny are his own optics. They've cleared up the misunderstanding since.
I know I've written Nobody died but about one case in my alma mater. There an aggressively ambitious, widely published, much sought after for talks, scientist didn't think that a meeting with his students had been successful until one of them was in tears. He's still in post. In contrast to Tim "Nobel" Hunt who had to resign for saying that girls sometimes cry. This August Commissioner Phil Hogan was forced, most unwillingly and ungraciously, to resign because he'd been a multiple scofflaw on his Golfgate visit home from Brussels. A subset of the commentariat was saying that the very same ambitious, self-certain traits that got him in trouble that weekend were actually essential to his success as a politician and negotiator. That's plausible but bollix: real men don't punch down.
For pity's sake can we stop doing it? Because I've just been told of another case of deeply inappropriate behaviour from a senior manager to his subordinates in a multi-million dollar enterprise which preens itself on its gender and diversity inclusivity and general great-place-to-work-ness. A whistle was blown and The Board of Trustees appointed an HR consultant to investigate the several complaints. None of them was found to be bad enough to merit demerits let alone a sacking. This outcome is a win for the Board of Trustees because nothing to see here and they can continue believing their fictions. For me the problem seemed to be one of statistics rather than optics. The HR hatchet-man [and appallingly for the optics it was a man!] treated all the interactions as series of independent events. But they are not independent! They all involve Probby O'Manager.
As so much, you can do it in Excel! Imagine that PO'M is line manager to 8 sub-ordinate Effectives. Over a certain time-period, they all have 20 interactions [meetings, memos, e-mails, phone-calls] with their boss. Assume these contacts are all essential for business, because otherwise one of the parties could be made redundant. And assume that everyone keeps records of when PO'M stepped >!whoa!< over the line of propriety and professionalism; then you'd generate a table like this:been there before. Essentially we're doing that classic statistical test of tossing a coin multiple times to determine if there is a heads-bias. You toss a coin 10 times and you expect 5H : 5T but you shouldn't be surprised if 6H : 4T came up, or even 2H : 8T. But you'd begin to think fishy to toss that coin many more times and clock 20H : 80T. Even poor Fiona who gets so much grief that almost every interaction causes an eye-brow lift, her life isn't statistically different from acceptable. Ed plays rugger with Probby and is locker-room inured to trash-talking.
Timely Blog as I'm doing an assignment on both Transparency and Advocacy in International Development World. See 2018 Oxfam and Save the Children. Despite rhetoric with regards to transparency, SEA by aid workers was not deemed to be necessary to be made public because 'its just a few bad apples' and the optics would be negative. Look at how much good work we do, wouldn't want a small number of instances of bad behaviour to impact that would we? Advocacy is important because it would seem that nothing changes without loud beating of drums and protests, and even then it can take decades. Also the underlying issue seems to be a) it isn't that bad, b) the victims don't really matter and c) patriarchy blah blah blah. Look up most questioning in SEA cases of the victim and it won't surprise you that more people don't report, especially those in a closed loop environment of work where a reputation of being 'difficult' is hugely impactful especially when uttered around a board table or yearly performance review. I've had the statement muttered at me during performance review discussions for the wider team (with suitable side eye) "Yes, Yes, but can you leave the equality stuff out of this particular discussion please?". #NotAllMenButAGoodProportionToMakeLifeDifficult.ReplyDelete