A Workplace Bullying Think Tank

Earlier this week, the New Workplace Institute hosted our first Greater Boston “Workplace Bullying Think Tank,” an invited gathering of practitioners in fields such as labor relations, management, law, counseling, and consulting to discuss how people from different professions and vocations can learn from and work with one another to address workplace bullying.

Enlightening exchanges

Over a light meal at Suffolk University Law School, we went around the room and introduced ourselves before breaking into smaller groups to discuss how to develop pro-active preventive and responsive measures to workplace bullying. We then reconvened as a body of the whole and discussed what ideas had emerged.

Among these is the possibility of holding a larger conference this year. In addition, individual participants have started to share ideas and information that promise to develop into collaborative initiatives and projects.

Equally important, the gathering itself brought together people whose paths might not often cross, despite their common interest in stopping bullying at work. When, say, labor union officials and management-side employment lawyers have a chance to talk about workplace bullying in a supportive, non-adversarial, mutually respectful environment, possibilities for greater understanding start to emerge.

I don’t mean to suggest that we’ll resolve all differences of opinion, but the success of this program was largely in assembling a somewhat disparate group of thoughtful, committed individuals who understand what workplace bullying does to people and organizations and want to address it.


The program was inspired by work being done at the Western Institute for Social Research in Berkeley, California on community-based think tanks that gather interested individuals from various walks of life to address social and economic challenges. The Workplace Bullying Think Tank idea was enthusiastically greeted by Greg Sorozan and Deb Falzoi, who have been leaders in advocating for the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace, and we quickly put together the first meeting.

We definitely will be holding more such gatherings during 2012, and I have a feeling that the conference idea will become a reality.


Our intention is to keep the group to a modest size for now. However, we’ll consider adding individuals from the Greater Boston area with backgrounds in fields such as law & public policy, labor relations (management and union), psychology and mental health, and organizational consulting. Please send a letter describing your interest and background and a resume to me at dyamada@suffolk.edu.

I must emphasize, however, that this is not a support or discussion group for those who are seeking help or advice in dealing with workplace bullying situations. Unfortunately we do not have that capacity, as much as I wish we could provide such assistance.

One response

  1. Thank you, Dr. Yamada, for bringing leaders together and working on the problem from the top-down.

    Those of us who have been targets need to collaborate to work on the problem from the bottom-up (after allowing ourselves time to grieve and heal, of course).

    The Wall Street Journal posted a story today about Glassdoor: http://it-jobs.fins.com/Articles/SBB0001424052970203513604577140690292735180/How-Former-Apple-CEO-John-Sculley-Inspired-the-Founder-of-Glassdoor?link=FINS_hp

    I don’t have any connection to Glassdoor (www.glassdoor.com), but I like the site. Glassdoor offers prospective employees an opportunity to learn about a company’s culture before accepting a job offer.

    I previously asked Glassdoor to include ratings about workplace bullying. If enough people request this, perhaps they will add that feature to company reviews (http://www.glassdoor.com/about/contact_input.htm).

    Legislation will take time to enact; let’s give companies an immediate incentive to do the right thing.

    There is always a risk when speaking out, even anonymously – nobody can guarantee that you won’t get burned – but if you’re ready to fight back, tell the truth on sites like Glassdoor and eBossWatch.

    Companies that are insensitive to employee suffering might take notice when their expensive branding takes a beating.

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