ASSOCIATE Professor Maryam Omari, of Swanbourne, is drawing on her undergraduate degree in zoology for her current research into workplace bullying.
The ECU School of Business and Law Dean said there were parallels between animal behaviours and how people acted in the workplace.
She said workplace bullying often revolved around power plays, instinct and survival of the fittest.
Speaking at Event and Conference Co’s Change the Conversation breakfast at Parmelia Hilton on Wednesday, Prof Omari said public administration, health and education were three sectors that recorded the highest instances of workplace bullying, especially in competitive, high pressure and hierarchical work environments.
West Australian of the Year Anne Carey shared her experience with workplace bullying at the event.
She said legislation often let down the victim.
“It’s taken them so long to recover and some haven’t recovered,” she said.
Jane (who did not want her real name used) said she was bullied by a line manager at a university and was still traumatised by the experience.
“From the beginning she dismissed me when I tried to engage in conversation and when I asked for an explanation the line manager got defensive and angry and gave me illogical reasons,” Jane said.
“It’s really stressful so there was an impact on my health.
“I cried after or during meetings with the line manager, which was embarrassing.
“I tried to speak up to resolve it but it didn’t have an impact on her actions.
“I didn’t take it any further because I need my job. Sometimes I think people are |promoted beyond their capability.”
Fair Work Commission deputy president Melanie Binet told the breakfast audience that too often people were promoted to positions because of their technical skills, not their ability to manage people.