A bellowing voice, casual misogyny and form for using his mobile as a shotput – it seems former House of Commons speaker John Bercow’s list of misdemeanours followed a well-worn template for the workplace bully.
As someone who seemed to have revelled in the pomp and status of his role, a parliamentary life ban handed down as punishment after an independent inquiry into his behaviour will hit hard despite his protestations to the contrary. Meanwhile, the outcome is some validation and retribution for his former colleagues whose working lives were blighted by his rants and tantrums, forever at the whim of one man’s mood and abuse of power.
Written in black and white, the particulars of Bercow’s case – including physically blocking people from leaving the room seem so oddly anachronistic in our cancel-heavy culture, in which offence can be caused by the most innocuous move and comment. It’s a reminder that there’s actually a lot of noise and hot air in more progressive working environments and that the rhetoric doesn’t always translate into reality. Indeed, old-school bullying is still very much alive and well – 23 per cent of the British workforce has been bullied at work according to small business loan broker and lender, SME loans, while a quarter have been made to feel excluded from the wider team. And plenty of perpetrators will never face the scrutiny Bercow finally has, especially in small businesses if they happen to be paymaster and the HR department as well and their conduct is rarely questioned yet alone appraised with any impartiality.
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