Respectful Workplace: When Bad Things Happen in Good Organizations.

Sometimes bad things happen in good organizations. The question is, what can everyone (from the highest ‘officer’, right up to the last of the ‘soldiers’) do to prevent these things for occurring, or stopping them when thy do happen?

That is what happened to the Australian Army, when allegations surfaced that army men – front line soldiers and officers – distributed material degrading to women on the internet.  The allegations exposed potential deep cracks in the army’s ability to uphold a respectful workplace environment where everyone can perform at their best.

In response to these allegations, Lieutenant General David Morrison, the Chief of Army, posted a three-minute YouTube video. In it, he offers an unambiguous response to these allegations, demonstrating one way of handling situations where things that should not be happening are happening in the midst of the workplace.

Discussion Questions:

View the video and, with your team, consider any or all of the following questions:

  1. What surprised you about the video?
  2. What challenged you as you viewed it?
  3. What inspired you about it?
  4. In the video, Morison states: “The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept”. How does this relate to your context and to each of you individually?
  5. Morrison makes a strong link between the alleged misconduct and the Army’s mission. Can you make similar links between respectful workplace issues (incivility/harassment/bullying) and your team’s or organizational mission? If so, what are these links?

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