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We must all stand up to bullies like Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein - by all accounts a sexual predator - ruthlessly exploited others and wielded power in his organisation and industry. His victims are many, including those who have lived for many years in silence for fear of repercussions to their career; fear that the most powerful man in the film industry would single-handedly destroy their future.

Of course, silence only fuelled the monster. So many knew, yet so many said nothing; their silence serving only to empower Weinstein in his sexual harassment, abuse and abhorrent behaviour.

In addition to being a sexual predator, he is also a textbook bully. By all accounts, he used his immense power to intimidate, coerce, force, threaten and aggressively dominate his victims - and not just the women he sexually assaulted.

Retaliation to any rebuke of his advances included a real, or perceived, threat in the relatively small film industry. Clearly, in the case of Weinstein, the fear was very real. Women with the world stage at their feet, who even fight fiercely for global human rights, felt unable to speak up.

This bullying behaviour is not unique to Weinstein. Ask a friend, colleague, co-worker and they'll know someone who has been bullied in the workplace, or they will have experienced bullying behaviour themselves.

And, just as Hollywood cocooned through its silence Weinstein's bullying and outrageous temper, so also do far too many people in every day workplaces.

In Northern Ireland, for example, the worst-kept secrets - like payouts to women (and men) who have been subject to bullying, harassment and victimisation in exchange for their silence - is not at all uncommon.

The same fears - loss of livelihood, career prospects - exist; NI is a small place with far fewer opportunities to move jobs. It is ripe for this behaviour and culture to flourish.

Speaking up and confronting the bully and the behaviour is empowering - not just for the person, but also for the entire organisation and society as a whole.

We need to develop a culture in organisations where moral courage is rewarded - even celebrated.

DR MELISSA McCULLOUGH

Belfast

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