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