Why office bullies still get away with it
For all the progress the #MeToo movement has made to combat workplace harassment — just this week Congress passed a bill to address the problem — the story of Eric Lander reveals the persistence of another common office behavior: bullying.
Until this week, Lander was President Joe Biden’s lead scientist, heading the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, including the president’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative. His fall from grace came after a White House investigation found he had exhibited demeaning, abrasive and “bullying” behavior. At first, Lander stayed on the job — in spite of Biden’s vow to fire office jerks — until POLITICO published a report about Lander’s actions, including allegations from staffers that he targeted women in particular.
Another reason for the shift in attitudes: the recognition that bullies harm the bottom line. In the words of Judith DeVries, director of learning at Challenger, Gray & Christmas consultant company: “We waste a lot of good talent — a lot of good female talent — because you shut down when you’ve been bullied.”