The BBC seems to have developed a case of schizophrenia around the topic of Jeremy Clarkson. You may recall that Clarkson was unceremoniously released by the BBC in March for his “unprovoked physical and verbal” attack on a Top Gear Producer.
People may well feel that the BBC has a duty to report, even about its own failures. However its recent article “Jeremy Clarkson gets plaque at hotel where Top Gear fracas took place” (24th November, 2015), trivialises the whole sorry affair.
The BBC is, of course, not alone in beloved national institutions which have bullying problems. Just short of a quarter of NHS staff report having been bullied or harassed by colleagues. To be fair to the NHS there is a huge and admirable effort taking place to entrench the dignity at work agenda and sort the problem.
Neither is the public sector unique. ACAS report bullying right across the UK workplace is on the rise with many people too afraid to speak up. ACAS has received 20,000 calls about bullying at work in the last year (as reported by the BBC itself on 16th November 2015). Some reports put the numbers of people affected as high as one in three.
Bullying is a major problem in UK organisations of all sizes and types deeply affecting the victims, their families and often a much wider constituency. To quote from Lord Prior, the Minister for NHS Productivity, “Fear is toxic for both safety and improvement.”
Too often efforts to eradicate bullying are half hearted or applied patchily – from lack of knowledge through fear of not wanting to tackle star performers to lack of management capability to tackle the issue.
The BBC as an institution has suffered, and seen others suffer, from the cult of personality, poor procedures and inability of staff and stakeholders to flag concerns. It is also at times a bellwether for UK opinion. It would be great to see it at last setting an example in both how they act internally and how they report this toxic issue.
Image: By Panhard (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

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