Have you seen the video 'Meet My Rapist'? It's a comedy - try to trust me on this one, it is actually funny. But it's also harrowing.
The workplace dialogue:
Employer: Have a seat. What kind of individual attributes can you bring to this company?
Girl: I'm a multi-tasker, go-getter - I'm really well rounded. Really well adjusted.
Employer: Says on your resume you're CPR certified, speak Spanish, are a survivor of rape. Survivor of rape; what is that?
Girl: Like, I got raped, but I don't have issues about it. I'm fine, I'm like totally still fine... I was raped, but I wasn't like raped.. so it's like fine...
Employer: That's good to hear, because this office is all about fun.
Girl: (interrupts - shouting at rapist that has been playing with her hair etc throughout the interview) Stop it! Just stop it!
Employer: Woah! No-one here wants an angry woman, ok? When you come to work, you hang up your coat, you leave your problems on the coat hanger.
I don't know... it's all pretty obvious isn't it? If we're still making jokes about it and it feels relevant, then there's still a problem. Emotions that aren't to the employer's advantage are discouraged. When we work, we feel like we're not just selling our skills and our time, but a bit of our soul too.
Except - here's the problem with it - getting through adversity is a catalyst for future success. Henry Fielder explains "He that can heroically endure adversity will bear prosperity with equal greatness of soul; for the mind that cannot be dejected by the former is not likely to be transported with the later." They're the people you want in your organisation, taking you to new heights of success, and keeping a level head. They're the people that become the boss, often minus the huge douchebag ego.
Now let's not swing the pendulum too far. Supporting people during adversity doesn't mean letting all standards go - they still need to call in the mornings they can't come to work, they still need to be present if they are present at work, they still need to be contributing more harmony than disharmony to the team dynamic.
I suppose the most important thing to remember is, when working with someone who has been through or is going through adversity, it's not just them that is affected by how management treats them. The whole organisation takes that person's treatment as a cue for what would be their fate at the hands of management. It's good to show that management is capable of at least some emotional intelligence. Have you got anything in place to ensure that, or are you just hoping common sense will prevail?
- Take it away Philosoraptor:
Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.