Archives November 2016

A Crime and Two Sins – How To Stop A Culture Of Harassment Dead In its Tracks (Part 3)

Three crimes led to one of the darkest moments in the history of the Canadian army.

Let me rephrase … one crime and two subsequent sins.

Click To Read Part 1

Click To Read Part 2

The Crime

The crime happened when two members of an Army unit deployed to Somalia captured, tortured and beat to death a Somali civilian. This was a violent crime, and in due course, the justice system dealt with the perpetrators.


The First Sin

A sin occurred when the unit and the system tried to cover up what happened. There are reasons for this, but all of them are inexcusable. When a few brave souls tried to expose the deception, they were victimized for being disloyal. As with all cover-ups eventually it began to unravel, the lies were exposed, and an inquiry was launched to ‘get to the bottom’ of it.


The Second Sin

A cardinal sin happened when leaders were not held accountable for failing in their leadership duties. The public inquest revealed that many in the camp knew the beating was happening and did nothing to stop it. When a cover-up was launched, leaders at every level were complicated by omission & commission.


The Repercussions

Some careers were slowed down, but to my knowledge, only one leader was punished. The Company Commander who was on leave and wasn’t in the camp at the time.

The Major accepted responsibility for his soldiers because he issued an order to stop civilians from sneaking into the camp and because he was their boss. In the end, he went to jail, was drummed out of the Army and lost his pension.


What has this to do with harassment in your workplace?

There is no excuse for anyone to harass, abuse or cause violence on a co-worker or employee.

If it were to happen, you must conduct a fair, transparent and rigorous investigation into it. If found to be true, the full weight of your authority should fall like a hammer on the perpetrator, up to and including being fired and the police being called.

If you cover up and try to protect the organization or excuse people you are equally guilty by omission as surely as the perpetrator is by commission.

Because you have lost your ‘moral authority’ to lead.

Read More about moral courage

In my opinion, every person who held a leadership position involved in the Somalia affair and that did not stop the crime or expose the sins should have been sent to jail.

And if I were the judge, the jail terms should have been longer & longer for each higher rank.


These people FAILED as leaders.

Police supervisors who cover up, ignore or excuse bad conduct; church leadership who knew but didn’t act to stop heinous crimes; your supervisors who turn a blind eye to harassment should pay a high price for their sins.



Because you are a leader!

You get paid as a leader, and you have the office of a leader!

You are responsible for the lives of the people who work for you

You cannot be able to stop every bad thing that might happen within your organization.

BUT, you can create a culture where every manager and supervisor knows that it is his or her job to stop harassment …

Dead in its tracks

You Can Stop A Culture Of Harassment (Part 2) – 3 Actions That Build Trust & A Safe Harbour

In Part 1 of this series, I made the case that predators likely exist in every workplace.

And I posed the question: What can leaders do to protect our people when most people have been victimized at work at on average five times before they say something or quit.


Why Are They Not Saying Anything?

1) Most feel they nowhere to turn for help.

2) They have no faith that leadership will believe or support them.


What Is A Boss To Do To Provide Safe Harbour

Legally and morally, you are required to provide a safe place to turn.

Legally, the courts and governments have found that workplace harassment & violence is to be treated no differently that any other type of Occupational Health & Safety matter.

Morally, you are responsible for developing policies and procedures to keep employees safe.


What Are The 3 Actions You Need To Do:

1. Implement a Policy & Procedures

Developing a policy is the easy part, just Google ‘harassment policy and the name of your state or province’ and you will find all you need.

But you must do more. Because adding one more policy to that giant thick book of policies is useless unless it is lived and breathed by everyone.

Implement an education program with lunch & learns, guest speakers, role-playing, etc. to educate everyone on the policy and what it means.


2. Evaluate the risk

Form a committee to review any history of violence in your workplace by:

– Asking employees about their experiences and concerns for themselves or others.

– Implementing a whistle-blower line

– Reviewing any incidents of violence

– Assessing the workplace for the risk factors associated with violence.

– Getting information from your industry association, workers’ compensation board, occupational health and safety regulators or union office.

– Seeking advice from local police service


3. Get Serious

You are responsible.

As the senior person in your organization, you must champion and personally communicate your commitment to a safe workplace.

When Army developed harassment policies in the 80’s, they used posters and peer training to educate the troops. That helped, but trust me, when the CO and the RSM personally came and talked about it … we took it seriously.

So get off your duff and demonstrate that you are serious

And when something comes up take it seriously, investigate it and act.


Build A Culture Of Safety To Provide People Somewhere To Go

Whether caused by predators, mental health issues, drugs & alcohol or challenging clients providing a safe workplace is 100% your responsibility as the leader.

Just as you take the financial health of your company seriously, invest the same into providing a workplace safe from violence and harassment.



Because it is the law,

It is the right thing to do, and

You are responsible!

In Part 3, We Explore The Leadership Responsibilities