Comment – A stake through the heart of industry issues…

Awareness alone is not enough to truly combat the issues of bullying, mental health awareness, sexism, racism and homophobia.

During my formative years as a journalist, I was lucky enough to work under two editors that would shape the way in which I worked with and treated others.   My first editor was from the Gordon Ramsay mould: shouty, sweary and given to sudden and unexpected outbursts of rage.   There was not a lever arch file or stapler in his office that was not used as a projectile or weapon at some point.   He was lacking in both humour and humanity.

My second editor was the polar opposite.   His door really was always open (but mainly to allow the sweet-smelling smoke from his pipe to escape) and he was quick with words of encouragement and advice.

Under my first editor, I worked to a strict 8.30 am to 5.30 pm timetable because I could not bear to be in his company any longer than was mandated by my contract.   But I would have gladly walked over hot coals for my second editor – a man called Jerry Gosney, for the record.   While I have, for the most part, avoided employing others during my career, I have always tried to be more like my second editor.

I mention this in light of a new report that says bullying remains prevalent within the construction (and, by association, demolition) industry.

According to that report, approximately one in five construction workers experienced bullying in the past year.

Despite the industry’s continued efforts to tackle mental health issues, an astonishing 21 percent of construction workers were impacted by bullying during the research period.  

The Mental Health in the Construction Industry survey found that only seven percent of workers raised feelings of poor mental health with their HR team.   Shockingly, when issues were raised, only percent said they had sufficient mental health support.

And all of this is taking place at a time when the industry continues to trot out its mental health awareness dogma.

I am now firmly of the belief that the bullying mentality and the addressing of the actual causes of mental health issues are like the baddies from the horror movies of the 1980s.   You can throw everything at them, but they just refuse to die.

Sadly, these particular baddies are not alone.   Like bullying, the issues of sexism racism and homophobia belong to a bygone era.   And yet they also refuse to just lie down and die.

Awareness is not the answer, as those same decades-old horror movies prove.   The villagers living in the shadow of Dracula’s castle were well aware of the evil that lurked within.   They avoided it themselves and they warned others of the fate that might befall them should they venture too close.   But none of that actually addressed the fact that there was a blood-sucking vampire within.

The only way the threat was finally laid to rest was via a wooden stake driven through the heart of the head vampire.

When it comes to bullying, sexism, racism and homophobia, we don’t need the awareness of a fearful local.   We need a socking great wooden stake and the willingness to kill the multi-headed beast once and for all.