May 29, 2019 Articles

Book Review: The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace

Any person who is in a position of authority would benefit from a deep read of this valuable book.

By Kathleen Balthrop Havener

The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace
By Lauren Stiller Rikleen
American Bar Association (2019)

Where should we lay the blame for the toxic culture of abuse that pervades our workplaces? The problematic environment stretches far. It includes our schools and colleges, our social-media platforms, even our public institutions. Anyone whose eyes are open knows the problem is real. Less obvious is why toxicity began, what it feeds on, why we tolerate it, and whether we will ever do anything about it. In her new book, Lauren Stiller Rikleen harnesses evidence-based research, countless interviews, and the power of her own intelligence and experience. She identifies not only some of the most pernicious root causes of harassment, but also ventures into ideas for how we might overcome its destructive presence.

My scribbled notes adorn nearly every page of my copy of this fascinating exploration into a shockingly pervasive phenomenon. Even a quick glance through my scratched notes reveals the two dominant factors that Rikleen argues perpetuate a culture of abuse: fear and secrecy. 

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