The Dark Side of Meetings

By Christine Born, March 3, 2015

Bullying on the Rise

At a time when Klopper feels sexual harassment has almost become a buzz phrase, Lorie Tuma, visiting assistant professor at Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids, Michigan, specializes in preparing hospitality and tourism management students to find a job in a company with a culture that fits their values and learning how to navigate business environments. She’s found women have more to fear from their own gender than men.

“You train for a fire drill, why not this issue? You need to empower your staff.” —Barbara Dunn, Barnes & Thornburg

“I hear more stories about women sometimes even enjoying the challenges for younger women, even hoping they fail,” says Tuma. “‘The Devil Wears Prada’ syndrome turns young people away from the industry.”

“It is there—look at social media and you’ll find them venting their feelings. With social media, it’s almost professional bullying on speed. It is happening, maybe not in all organizations, but some,” she adds.

She says the reverse situation can be true, with younger people bullying older people to leave the industry. She offers an example of an organization with several younger staff members and one older person who specializes in customer service, but might not be technologically savvy. While Klopper says she experienced bullying during one of her first jobs, she did not see it as such. She suggests that as a society we’ve become too soft.

“I’ve had plenty of good experiences with women. There are just some women, like men, who are nasty. Everything is so PC now. We are so quick to pull the trigger on going to a higher authority. We need to encourage people to have their wits about them.”

Teaching young people, especially women, about finding organizations that match their beliefs and mindset, and helping them understand the very nature of the meetings industry, are solutions Tuma is invested in. “How do we prepare and protect people?” she says.

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