APESMA survey finds professionals get bullied too

Wednesday, 04 July, 2012


A new survey of 351 APESMA (Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia) members has revealed that almost 5% of Australian engineers, scientists and other professionals have witnessed acts of violence in their workplace.

APESMA spokesperson Erik Locke said a staggering 75.2% of respondents said they had been bullied while in their current profession, showing that bullying doesn’t just happen to blue-collar workers or in the schoolyard.

“Bullies are gutless and don’t understand the impact that their sometimes criminal behaviour has on their colleagues,” Locke said.

“Bullying behaviour causes mental anguish, lost productivity and everyone needs to do more to stamp it out.”

The survey of 351 professional engineers, scientists, managers, IT professionals and other technical professions revealed the following types of bullying at their workplace:

  • Yelling (49.7%)
  • Swearing (39.1%)
  • Ignoring (62.5%)
  • Exclusion (70.3%)
  • Humiliation in front of peers (45.3%)
  • Cyberbullying (3.8%)
  • Unfair expectations (66.6%)
  • Threats of being dismissed (36.6%)
  • Racial discrimination (14.4%)
  • Sexual discrimination (13.4%)
  • Threats of violence (12.2%)
  • Acts of violence (4.7%)
  • Sexual assault (0.6%)

“While we know that a small number of people raise bullying allegations unfairly, there is no doubt that Australian workplaces are rife with bullying,” Locke said.

“Many members said one of the main reasons they joined APESMA is to help them access legal advice and support to deal with workplace bullying.”

Locke said the 82.6% of respondents had witnessed bullying by a manager at their organisation. He said 62.5% were aware that management had been notified of bullying at their workplace but 43.5% of those respondents said management had taken no action on bullying at all.

“It is greatly disappointing that management often fails to respond appropriately when called upon to do so,” Locke said.

He said the submission drew deeply on the accounts of APESMA members who outlined the prevalence, impact of and the failure of many workplaces to respond appropriately to workplace bullying.

“I’d like to thank those APESMA members that shared their personal experience with workplace bullying,” Locke said.

“APESMA listens carefully to the opinions of our members and we hope that your contributions will also be considered by Australian Government when developing new ways to stamp out workplace bullying.”

A copy of APESMA’s submission to the Australian Parliament’s inquiry into workplace bullying is available here.

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