《今日秀》（Today）节目主持安•克莉的遭遇便是一个典型的职场围攻案例——而这种事件能进入公众视野实属罕见。据《纽约时报》（New York Times）报道，“片场普遍存在的卑劣行径”，“搭档马特•劳尔的日益冷淡”，无礼的同事，羞辱性的滑稽动作，以及执行制片人吉姆•贝尔的恶毒言语，都是造成克莉创伤性经历的罪魁祸首。“克莉感觉，那些男人们在《今日秀》幕后形成的俱乐部般的氛围，从一开始就在伤害着她。她曾对自己的朋友们说，最后几个月简直是在用‘专业的’手法对我进行折磨。”
Just as with certain species and the environment, some people are more vulnerable to toxic atmospheres than others. Pyschologist and author Elaine Aron has written powerfully about highly sensitive people, who can provide huge benefits to a workplace but have extra-low tolerance for meanness or sensory overload.
While some boards of directors are acutely aware of the importance of corporate culture (some rank it in the top few categories of their oversight responsibility), some never consider the issue at all -- or only sporadically, like before and during a merger when two company cultures combine.
Bullying in workplaces is often viewed as a one-on-one event. But the problem with placing the blame on just one individual is it that it lets organizations, their management teams, and boards off the hook, says Duffy.
While managers are familiar with the idea of bullying, the concept of "mobbing," a term coined by Duffy and her co-author Len Sperry, is less understood. "Workplace mobbing," Duffy says, is "nonsexual harassment of a coworker by a group." The purpose is to remove the individual from a particular unit or from the larger organization, which may occur through termination, medical leave, or quitting. Whether or not the group is successful in removing the individual, "this typically protracted traumatizing experience" often results in humiliation and degradation "with significant financial, career, health, and psychosocial losses," Duffy says.
Although it's not often discussed, workplace mobbing is common. You've probably witnessed or experienced some of the common attributes of mobbing yourself: excessive criticism, personal attacks, or devaluing; the spreading of false information that doesn't get corrected; isolation or removal from communication loops.
What happened to Ann Curry at the Today show is a classic case of mobbing -- and it's rare to have such a public view. "General meanness on the set," "the growing indifference of her co-host Matt Lauer," disrespectful co-workers, humiliating antics, and the cruelty of Jim Bell, her executive producer, who himself has since been booted to another role, all contributed to Curry's traumatic experience, the New York Times reported. "Curry felt that the boys' club atmosphere behind the scenes at Today undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture."
"Mobbing is devastating," Duffy says, because there are "few more basic injuries than social exclusion or ostracism. The behaviors are often done under the pretense the individual doesn't need to know, so it looks like business as usual." But the opposite is the case. The individual is being shunned.
To add insult to injury, other coworkers who may be distinct from the perpetrators may also distance themselves because they don't want to be the next target. (This can also happen in layoff situations to individuals who are being let go.) This just adds to the level of isolation targeted individuals feel.