For me this is punching-the-air-brilliant stuff, and I found myself willing this man on, just for his courage in standing up and speaking out.
Of course there are rights and wrongs and a whole heap more to this story I am sure - but the fact remains that it takes courage and bloody hard work to speak up against anything that is intrinsically wrong. In fact, those who do find the courage to do so are nearly always ridiculed, often ostracised, and sometimes ruined as a result. One of the comments after the article talks about working at places where "... you have to be very careful what you say or you could find yourself out of a job.... There is a climate of fear in many offices..."
My professional dealings tell me that this is so very true - and, in my opinion, getting worse. People are afraid to say (let alone do) anything that might rock the status quo, for fear of losing their job. So instead they follow the code of silence - knowing that something is wrong but feeling powerless to do anything about it. This kind of behaviour eats away at self-confidence and ultimately threatens the very soul of a business. The more people are having to pretend that everything is ok, the less they connect emotionally with their work colleagues and their surroundings. They start to become empty shells and as a result their work and concentration becomes (at best) robotic.
So far as I'm concerned it becomes a vicious cycle of bullying and fear. What happens then to good customer service, caring about results or 'going the extra mile' - the small but personal differences that encourage a business to thrive? With so many people invested (for whatever reasons) on maintaining a status quo that rewards few and harms many, is it any wonder that we have reports telling us that people are less happy and more stressed today than ever before?
The thing is, those of us who keep the silence are in our own way enabling the bad stuff to continue. A bully can only harm others while he or she thinks they have control. This is why silencing people is such a powerful weapon - it separates others and breeds insecurities.
I remember one of my earliest projects was to help two separate offices from the same firm to integrate in to one large building. It was absolutely fascinating collecting the feedback from both groups of people. Each believe the other had a better working conditions. Each was convinced that the other group would judge them. Each was scared that they might not fit in. Each held their clients in such high regard that they were afraid the move would upset their relationships... It wasn't until I played back the feedback to both groups of people that the tensions subsided. Once they realised that they both had the same (or very similar) hopes and fears, they pulled together and they made it work.
OK, life may not always be that simple. But the thing is, if everyone stays quiet then nothing will change. I know from bitter experience how hard it has been for me to get my own voice heard - how it appears to be more important to cover backs and make sure we don't rock the boat than listen to what is wrong. It riles me no end to know that the focus seems much more on 'not upsetting the baddies' rather than taking action on what is right.
I for one have now found my voice. And my intention is to help others find theirs as well. I'm not suggesting that everyone should take the same 'out there' route that I am choosing - what I am saying is that the more we can start to acknowledge (even if only to ourselves) when something is not right, then we can start to work out how to take action.
It's the smallest tiniest things that make a difference. We may feel like we're only a drop in the ocean - but as we all band together our power will expand until we are the difference that makes the difference.
So now, I wonder who's up for joining in...?