Workplace Violence: More Women in Authority Does Not [Always] Equal Good [Feminist] Leadership


Sam is a visionary who saw the need to challenge and transform abuse in her community. She gathered a small group of committed and concerned citizens to create the organization Safer Homes and Communities (SHC). At the outset, SHC was committed to responding to expressed community needs. Chris (the current General Manager) was appointed because it was thought her financial skillset could support innovation in the business model dominating the changing funding environment. Marta (an experienced community worker employed at SHC), has come to think that as the agency has grown and as competition for funding has intensified, some of the desirable core vision of SHC seems to have been lost, even with the original visionaries. As specific business models become accentuated, the types of opportunities for women to demonstrate leadership are changing – and so too are the opportunities to exert influence, authority, and power. We tell Marta’s story to demonstrate how diverse feminist orientations may contribute to our understanding of leadership through Marta’s response to the workplace violence and abuse of power in SHC. This case is an invitation to consider leadership from diverse feminist points of view and illustrates how diverse theoretical orientations may generate or support particular remedies, and may embed useful or limiting possibilities. The story depicts the subtle violations of personal and professional respect in forms we call workplace bullying – and thus a form of violence. The case is presented as an encouragement to recognise leadership beyond the formalised positions of authority. We urge consideration of the risks to the wellbeing of the clients, customers, staff, and reputations of an organization through the marginalizing, demonizing, or exiting of whistle-blowers.

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