Why Think Pink for Workplace Bullying?

By: Amanda Bay | On: February 26, 2014 | In: Bullying, Sensitivity Training, No Comments


What are you wearing this Wednesday, February 26? I know I’ll be putting on my pinkest of pink shirts as a stand against workplace bullying. Here’s why:


It all started with a small gesture in a tiny community in Nova Scotia in 2007 by two high school students—David Shepherd and Travis Price—in support of a fellow student who was the target of bullying for wearing a pink shirt to school. Shepherd and Price purchased and distributed pink shirts to other students to show their support of the bullied student and take a stand on the issue. The movement is now growing across Canada and around the world.


The fact is, bullying is a major issue in our society. But it isn’t only isolated to playgrounds, cyberspace or high school hallways; it pervades our workplaces too. A 2006 study shows that 40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis.1  Eight years later, I wonder how those numbers stand up now.


Workplace Bullying, harassment, discrimination, intimidation—whatever label you choose to give it, the bottom line is that it hurts. Targets may experience a range of effects including anger, feelings of frustration and/or helplessness, loss of confidence, an increased sense of vulnerability, physical symptoms such as the inability to sleep or loss of appetite, anxiety about going to work, inability to concentrate or make decisions, low morale and productivity as well as psychosomatic symptoms such as stomach pains, headaches or migraines, fatigue or high blood pressure.


If 4 out of 10 employees are being bullied and experience even a few of the effects above, what’s the ripple effect? What’s the impact of workplace bullying to your organization?


As indicated on the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website (www.ccohs.ca), “bullying affects the overall ‘health’ of an organization. An ‘unhealthy’ workplace can have many consequences, including increased absenteeism and staff turnover, increased costs for recruitment and training and increased risk for accidents or incidents.” It can also decrease morale and motivation and, in turn, lead to poorer customer service and therefore reduced customer confidence and corporate image.


Like I said, bullying hurts. It hurts not just the target and their families, but colleagues and organizations.


It is time as a society, as a workplace, as individuals to stand up and proclaim that bullying will not be tolerated. Period.


So let’s all think pink this Wednesday!


1      Lee R.T., and Brotheridge C.M. “When prey turns predatory: Workplace bullying as predictor of counteragression / bullying, coping, and well-being”. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 2006, 00 (0): 1-26

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