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Meriton sacks manager over misogynistic Facebook comment

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HC Online | 02 Dec 2015, 09:46 AM Agree 0
The property company dismissed an employee this week over comments that were publicly directed to columnist Clementine Ford.
  • Bernie Althofer | 02 Dec 2015, 12:26 PM Agree 0
    Perhaps if more people were confident that when they speak up, they will be listened to and heard.

    In this day and age when most organisations have conducted some form of awareness or training sessions regarding various forums of counterproductive behaviours, the message should be getting through. Unfortunately, it does seem that from time to time, some individuals may not think that their workplace or someone in their workplace is watching or listening to their comments wherever they are made.

    There are some things that should not be said, and ultimately, individuals need to treat others with respect and dignity.

    Good on Clementine for speaking up.
  • Denis | 02 Dec 2015, 02:03 PM Agree 0
    It is interesting when you google Clementine Ford and her own online comments. She is certainly up for the f-bomb and the occasional c-bomb when describing other journalists. It doesn't look like her employer cares about their reputation.

    Don't read this as a defence of the original crime by Nolan. I think his employer acted responsibly on face value.
  • Bernie Althofer | 03 Dec 2015, 08:43 AM Agree 0
    The propensity to use language that has in the past been described in legislation as obscene has been tempered to the point where it has become mainstream, even though there are still a number of people who would never use such language. Communication is a critical issue across all workplaces, and whilst some might perceive a 'safeness' in the use of social media platforms to describe others, there is still a 'cringe' factor involved.

    Having an interest in communication, bullying and corruption amongst other topical issues, I am reminded that the lessons learned from studies into police corruption are important when considering how workplace bullying kills professional culture. The findings from these Inquiries or Reviews should be compulsory reading by managers in the public and private sector organisations. In some areas, the discussion about workplace bullying is moving away from the traditional health and safety environment to broader social issues, including corruption.

    For example, Connor: 2002 indicates that 'police work by its very nature involves the slippery slope (the potential for gradual deterioration of socio-moral inhibitions and perceived sense of permissibility for deviant conduct)'. Connor also indicates 'that police deviance is a much broader term than corruption. It includes all activities which are inconsistent with norms, values, or ethics (from a societal standpoint or even from the police standpoint).'

    Connor provides four definitions to be considered. These are:

    • Deviance - behaviour inconsistent with norms, values, or ethics
    • Corruption - forbidden acts involving misuse of office for gain
    • Misconduct - wrongdoing violations of departmental procedures
    • Favouritism - unfair "breaks' to friends or relatives (nepotism)

    In terms of workplace bullying, all these definitions outlined by Connor come into play at various stages. Victims of workplace bullying may have raised issues alleging non compliance or unlawful activities that if proven, would result in action being taken against another person or persons.

    Whilst the issue of police violence and brutality has been identified in various Commissions of Inquiry (Fitzgerald, Rampart, President's Commission 1967) Connor 2000 indicates that brutality 'has been defined as excessive force, name calling, sarcasm, ridicule, and disrespect'. Connor refers to Kania and Mackey's (1977) widely regarded definition that indicates, "brutality is excessive violence, to an extreme degree, which does not support a legitimate police function".

    Some workplace bullying behaviours contain elements that could be perceived as violent or even brutal, and certainly in some cases, even a breach of an organisational Code of Conduct. Societal changes have seen many changes in relation to communication practices, and whilst individuals may have ‘temporary flashes’ or ‘outbursts’ when obscenities or profanities are used, it is important to remember the ideology regarding the misuse of such words.

    Connor 2000 discussed police and police profanity and indicated that 'there are many reasons why a police officer would use obscene and profane language.' Connor acknowledges that 'effective use of verbal communication is one of the skills expected in police work', and whilst there is 'specific condemnation of the use of certain words that are "patently offensive", there is no such 'mechanism for determining what's offensive with interpersonal communication'.

    Connor indicates a typology exists with words having 'religious connotations, indicated excretory functions or connected with sexual functions'. The use of words associated with such classifications or typology by police officers is 'purposive and not a loss of control or catharsis' and is done to:

    • gain the attention of citizens who may be less than cooperative;
    • discredit somebody or something, like an alibi defense;
    • establish a dominant-submissive relationship;
    • identify with an in-group, the offender or police subculture; and
    • to label or degrade an out-group.

    Connor indicates that the 'last is of the most concern, since in may reflect the transition of prejudice to discrimination, especially if racial slurs or epitaphs are involved'.

    Whilst the above information focuses primarily on policing organisations, other organisations can learn from those comments. One still has to question why some people would make a conscious decision to use such language, and the intent behind of such use. For some individuals, the use may be an every day practice, and for others, they may have a specific purpose e.g. gain attention etc.

    In terms of reputation management, individuals and organisations need to be aware that the use of such language in electronic formats means that a footprint is being created, and this might be impossible to erase. Unfortunately, the context in which some language is used is not always part of the 'footprint'. In additiion, calling out another person's behaviour or conduct might result in adverse comments being directed towards the person calling out the language, if they themselves use such language.

    In a time when the 'micro aggression' movement is happening, one might also question whether or not the use of such language will form part of that movement, and whether or not some individuals will take the moral high ground seeking to ban the use of such language at any time.

    There are some behaviours that still need to be called out for what they are, and those who report such behaviours should be supported. At the same time, when there does not appear to be any set rules that strictly prohibit the use of some language, perhaps we may see more use of what was previously described as 'obscene' language, even though there will stlll be a cringe factor involved.
  • Sean | 15 Dec 2015, 11:48 AM Agree 0
    Perhaps Clementine Ford needs to be called out for the abusive comments she makes in regards to fellow journalists (male and female - she does not discriminate when it comes to being abusive)? Not that I am condoning the (ex)-Meriton supervisors comments - but do think that Clem is being hypocritical and is clearly a firm believer in not adhering to standards that she wants others to adhere to.
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