Have you ever worked for a horrible boss? Unfortunately, I have on a few occasions.
Something like in the movie, Horrible Bosses, where the bosses are absolutely horrible and destructive. The types that make you run screaming from the building.
My first horrible boss, a woman, screamed at anyone that came into her office to ask questions about tasks assigned. She didn't want to be bothered whatsoever and disliked everyone for whatever reason. Likely she had some rough issues at home or earlier in her life. Everyone disliked her and I mean everyone. People were afraid of her and afraid to go near her. She actually gave "toxic" a new meaning. Of course, that was before everyone had a smartphone to record and document what was going on. Corporate came in eventually, perhaps due to the amount of employee complaints received, and she was fired. The entire department and other department heads that had to deal with her literally celebrated her departure. When her replacement was arrived, it was like a breath of fresh air!
There was one office manager that was so toxic and nasty. She would gossip about, bully, ridicule and make fun of anyone that she felt threatened by; it was ridiculous. She was insecure and didn't know what she was doing in her role. So she would create drama on purpose, making it look like the co-workers were to blame, and throw co-workers under the bus, while being sweet and nice to the owner. It was crazy. Again, that was before everyone had a smartphone...
Another time, I worked in a male-dominated environment, and when I'd go to the break area, I would hear the typical sexist jokes, off-color jokes, being told by male employees. It was very uncomfortable for me to listen to, but of course, I couldn't speak up, for fear of being a target... The owner was a sexist, misogynistic person himself, who would make sexist jokes and viewed women as inferior. Even if I would have recorded his antics, it wouldn't have mattered or changed anything since there was no higher authority.
One boss I worked for encouraged workplace gossip and actually mocked and ranted about other co-workers. He would make fun of them on extremely personal and unprofessional levels. Talk about a toxic environment! Needless to say, I quit. Now that I think about it, I wish I would have recorded him during one of his rantings and sent it to Human Resources, lesson learned.
I know I am speaking from the heart and that is the point. A toxic work environment affects the employee (and their family) 24/7. It can turn great hires into inefficient blobs, even make them saboteurs. It is not healthy in any sense of the word.
The virtuous and professional companies do a great job of promoting diversity and inclusivity; yet, many still have a long way to go.
Companies and/or owners should do more to see what the workplace environments are actually like beneath the top levels.
Today, many companies are becoming more transparent with their diversity and inclusivity statements. Great! But that only really works when they are put into practice - across the board, applying to everyone
If companies would do more to provide diversity and inclusivity training, it would reduce lawsuits, improve profitability, and increase employee retention. It's simply the right thing to do.
Helen Roush is Executive Vice President of Paperitalo Publications.