Sunday, May 27, 2018

What’s the cost of one’s soul and inalienable rights in the United States these days?

On January 24, 2018, vile bully Lawrence Nassar was sentenced to forty to 175 years in a Michigan state prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of sexual assault of minors who were top-level gymnasts under his medical care as team physician for USA Gymnastics.

The 332 women who sued Michigan State University over abuse by Dr. Nassar will receive $500 million from the university in a settlement approved by the university’s elected trustees in a conference call on Tuesday night, May 15, 2018. It is believed to be the largest settlement ever reached in a sexual abuse case involving an American university.

Each woman will receive just under $1.3 million on average; some will get much more, and others much less, he said.
As the Nassar crisis unfolded, it appeared that Michigan State, USOC, and USA Gymnastics officials went covert, just like those at Penn State concerning Sandusky, to protect a child molester, to undermine trust and the truth, and ultimately to not protect children.

Trust results when a person in vulnerable positions feels protected, like a person or group or surroundings won’t allow him or her to be hurt. Abuse and bullying compromises invulnerability, undermines workplace trust, and worker motivation.

The sense of invulnerability is tied to the three core beliefs:
a) the world as benevolent,
b) the world as meaningful, and
c) the self as worthy.

Is having these beliefs shattered worth an average of $1.3 million to each of Nassar’s victims? Or, is it worth losing, on average, 20 years of each victim’s life expectancy?

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports participants with childhood exposure to six or more different types of adverse childhood events (ACEs), including childhood sexual abuse, had their life expectancy reduced by twenty years, living to 60.6 years on average. The average age of death for the control group was 79.1. As a boy, I experienced eight of these adverse events.

In a related move on Monday May 21, 2018, a divided Supreme Court ruled businesses can prohibit their workers from standing up for themselves and banding together in disputes over pay and conditions in the workplace, like bullying, abuse, and harassment. This decision affects an estimated 25 million non-unionized employees.

The justices held that individual employees can be forced to use arbitration, not the courts, to air complaints about wages and overtime. The outcome also may include workplace discrimination and other disputes, like bullying, when employee contracts specify one-on-one arbitration must be used.

Workers who want to take action against sexual harassment, pay discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and racial discrimination “may now be forced behind closed doors into an individual, costly - and often secret - arbitration process,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.

The decision will hit low-wage, vulnerable workers especially hard, just as the most vulnerable gymnasts at the University of Michigan, the USOC, and USA Gymnastics were left exposed to Nassar’s predatory grip.

My legendary high school football coach, Ted Monica, would say, “We are only as good as our weakest (most vulnerable) player.” And he would say, “If you are this player, you better work your tail off to get better. If you know this player, you better work your tail off to help him.” I trusted this edict. I trusted my team. We protected each other. The approach worked, and I assumed, based on our unique success, it would and should apply to all organizations. Sacrifice, submission to a greater team goal, and brotherly love based on trust characterized my playing-days teams. It was key to my resilience.

Abuse and bullying violate the basic tenets of the United States Constitution; namely, each citizen’s right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

We need successful leaders who realize the true gauge of any group is the performance of its weakest, not its strongest, member. The value of a society is in how it treats and protects and elevates its most vulnerable members (i.e. the young, the old, the infirm). We need leaders who create safe environments where people trust.

They know their family, friends, schoolmates, doctors, managers, leaders, coaches, teammates, coworkers, administrators, faculty, neighbors, and staff will protect them from, and not exploit or expose them to, being hurt when they are vulnerable; where everyone is committed to each-others’ safety and success.

This is what makes teams, organizations, communities, societies, and America great.

Matt Paknis has 27 years of global management consulting experience, helping organizations embrace and apply healthy team and leadership principles and eliminate workplace bullies. His book, “Successful Leaders Aren’t Bullies; How to Stop Abuse at Work and Build Exceptional Organizations”, is available to order online, is published by Post Hill Press and will be distributed by Simon & Shuster in September. Matt coached the offensive lines at Brown, at Penn State with Paterno and Sandusky, and at URI, is a former NJ All State and All Ivy League Offensive Tackle, and is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

New York AG’s fall: From women’s defender to alleged abuser

All abusive and bullying behaviors are rooted in predators', and respective organizations', disturbed needs for power and control.

Shedding a bright light on this darkness with truth and transparency, and arming targets and victims with efficient, safe, protective, and reliable reporting processes, will help stop this vile behavior.

The burden of proof of innocence in abuse cases must shifted to the accused. It's better to err on the side of of caution to protect vulnerable people and to encourage targets and victims to step forward than to prioritize preventing false accusation.

Comfort in exposing abusive behaviors must become the norm and replace hiding and allowing abusive practices. Truth and facts must overpower fear and criticism.

The key is for leaders and constituents to not tolerate bullying and to empower all people to step up to stop abuse.

This and more tools for the reader to identify, stop, address, and transcend workplace abuse and bullying are available in my book, "Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies; How to Stop Abuse at Work and Build Exceptional Organizations", to be released by Simon & Schuster on September 4th and available on line and in all bookstores.

Thank you for your consideration. It's time to stop abuse!