Maybe I am too old and cynical, but I don’t think the human race will ever eliminate predators from the gene pool. I have thoughts on why these people exist but that is a matter for psychologists, but what I do know and understand better than most is leadership.

The point:

Predators exist and they harass, abuse, assault, bully and worse.

Leaders allow and permit a culture where physical, sexual harassment and bullying can take place.

I can hear your blood-pressure alarm going off.

Some of you are indignant because you have a policy; you have ZERO tolerance for harassment. You are probably writing the email now to tell me that the one complaint you received was investigated, dealt with and the predator was disciplined or fired.

But here is the thing; the news is full of organizations that pride themselves on strong leadership values and binders of policies that are replete with accusations of harassment and predatory activities – both Canadian & American armed forces, the RCMP, municipal police services, to name a few.

So please save the energy you are about to spend on indignation and invest that into action.


If someone is saying they are a victim of harassment and bullying I can assure you that it has been going on for a very long-time. Canadian Business Magazine found that most people have been victimized on average 5 times before they say something or quit.

Most employees suffer in silence or move on to a new job.

Even in the most egregious forms of harassment – sexual – a Huffington Post survey found that 70% percent of women who have been sexually harassed do not report.

The odds are you will likely never know there is a predator in your midst… I didn’t.

One of my direct reports was a bully and I completely missed what was going on. I felt awful because the team he led was made up of some of my longest serving employees, many of whom I considered friends and they didn’t tell me what was going on.

The stats agree:

  • 52% of women report they have been harassed (CNBC)
  • 25% of all workers report some level of harassment or bullying (Queens University)
  • 33% of civil servants report they have been bullied or harassed (The National Post)

So are you really so sure that it isn’t happening in your organization?

There are two interconnected reasons why you may never know what is going on:

  • The victims do not trust the ‘system’ to look after them; and
  • The chain of command was never held responsible and accountable for the actions of the perpetrator.

Predators are persistent and ubiquitous and are currently, or will eventually be, in your organization. It is bound to happen, but what you do about it is not preordained.

You need to build faith in the system so people will tell you (part 2) and you need to hold your  leaders accountable for what is happening on their watch (part 3).


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