Dec 2nd 2019
News Update: Bullying crisis in the beauty industry
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Bullying and the beauty industry
The weekday current affairs programme, Victoria Derbyshire, has recently exposed the culture of institutionalised bullying within the beauty industry. She interviewed over 20 people, from company directors to make-up artists in department stores who have claimed to be victims of bullying, abuse and bad practice. Due to such working conditions many said they had suffered from anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts as a result.
In the programme one woman said her boss was a bully who spoke behind her back and told suppliers she was sharing confidential information. One woman who had experienced a bad case of bullying says she was ‘ignored by HR and the board of directors’. This bullying crisis is evidently instilled within all layers of management and decision-makers.
The bullying crisis in the beauty industry is not new news. Instagram account Estée Laundry, an anonymous beauty collective, uses its platform to voice issues in the industry and is responsible for launching the petition #SayNoToBullying against bullying in the beauty industry. It already has thousands of signatures from people passionate about the cause.
Bullying, mental health and business success
We spend a huge majority of time at work and experiencing bullying can seriously affect both our physical and emotional health. Employers are under a general obligation to take ‘reasonable care for the health and safety of employees in the workplace’. This means they have a duty towards employees suffering from mental health issues and how the workplace is contributing to their mental health.
Not only is caring for your employee’s wellbeing and mental health morally important, it’s key for business success. Organisations perform better when their staff are healthy, motivated and engaged. In fact, happy employees are 12% more productive, whilst unhappy employees experience 10% less productivity. A culture of institutionalised bullying will not only damage morale but also business.
In Victoria Derbyshire’s portrayal of the beauty industry some women were scared to complain, fearing they would never work in it again. One woman in the programme stated she saw ‘strong women crying at their desks…determined to depart’. This institutionalised bullying fosters a toxic culture that, in turn, damages retention, morale and business outcomes.
The British Beauty Council is calling for an independent body to be set up to investigate claims of bullying and unfair dismissal in the industry, which does not have a trade union. These steps are key in order to dispel the ingrained culture of bullying. It is of interest to leaders and decision-makers within the beauty industry to ensure employees are happy. Not only is it their responsibility towards employees but it is also key to creating an environment conducive to driving business growth. The two are not mutually exclusive.
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*Beauty industry bullying: ‘I saw strong women cry at their desks’ BBC, 2019