In September 2014 I did a tongue-in-cheek cartoon series that I called "TIFF Shamings". The point of the series was to poke fun at some of the ridiculous behavior that many of us have experienced during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The Toronto Star ran a few of them - you can see the series here. While working on these – I decided to continue the series with a focus on cartoonish executive behavior that I (and many of my colleagues) have witnessed and experienced in the workplace throughout our careers.
When the Jian Gomeshi story hit, like so many others - it really struck a chord. While his case is extreme – it really hit hard just how common and detrimental it is on SO many levels for organizations to ignore serious abusive situations that are happening right under their noses, all in an effort to protect employees deemed as "valuable". In the past, I have commiserated with many others in the so-called "glamour" industries such as film, music, broadcast, publishing and advertising who have had similar frustrations. When I thought of doing these in September, it was intended to be a fun exercise - just a logical extension of the TIFF Shamming project that I enjoyed doing. But as I jogged my memory and dug deeper, drawing from these situations actually disturbed me...
(you can click on any image below to trigger a slide show)
Through impromptu discussions at Touchwood PR where I currently work (a wonderfully trauma-free zone!) and through our Pioneering Women committee meetings, we have discussed these situations at great length. If there was anything positive to come out of the disturbing Ghomeshi exposé, stimulating discussion on this topic was certainly one of them.
The amount of time and lost productivity we have all experienced while managing this sort of behavior boggles my mind, as does the fact that my own complacency contributed to the problem as well - much more than I could comprehend at the time.
There are MANY, many companies that have zero tolerance for this sort of behavior and absolutely thrive because of it, and I have experienced very positive work environments - the difference is huge. There have been countless books written on the subject - one of my current favourites being The No Asshole Rule (GREAT title and right on point). You can educate yourself through the hundreds of books and free blogs that are available on positive leadership. I've started to list some of my favourite books here.
My final words on this post are that if you find yourself in any similar circumstances, please take a stand - no matter how big or small, don't just shrug it off. Small wins add up! And, if you recognize your own behaviour in any of the above drawings - it really is cartoon-worthy, and not remotely funny. Enough already. When the choice is yours, why choose such behaviour?!?
It's not OK. It never was, and never will be OK.
P.S. In no way do the above cartoons resemble any of the real life characters that "inspired" them. I just wanted to capture the essence of these situations, as I am not interested in getting even or calling anyone out. I just want it to stop.