Retaliation is a sad fact of office life. You submit a formal complaint over a colleague’s inappropriate behavior, only to find yourself the target of substantial blowback—you’re demoted, shifted to a new team, or even (in the worst-case scenario) terminated for a made-up reason.
Although we’d like to think of retaliation as a relatively limited phenomenon, a new survey by Blind shows it’s still relatively widespread within tech companies. According to 8,184 respondents, Booking.com has the highest percentage of employees (64.10 percent) who have either witnessed or experienced retaliation; Pinterest came in second (60.61 percent) followed by eBay (55.13 percent), PayPal (also 55.13 percent), and Lyft (50 percent).
Take a look at the full chart below. Because the responses to Blind’s surveys are anonymous, it’s impossible to determine if the respondents actually work for these companies; nonetheless, it’s clear (provided a significant percentage of these respondents are telling the truth) that retaliation remains a huge issue within the tech industry.
When Blind ran this survey last year, Airbnb came in first (with 56.45 percent) followed by eBay (49.09 percent), Intel (45.94 percent), and Amazon (45.89 percent). Again, the nature of the company’s surveys makes it difficult to perform year-over-year comparisons; the takeaway is that retaliation is alive and well.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discrimination can go beyond firing a whistleblower; other forms include transferring the complainant to a different department, verbal or physical abuse, threats to involve the law for unrelated issues (for ‘reporting immigration status’ is the example given by the EEOC), and making workflows more difficult.
If you experience something in the office you can’t ignore—such as sexual harassment, or a colleague attacking another because of the latter’s race or gender—make sure you document as much as possible about the incident before heading to HR. Evidence and objective reporting are key, along with transparency.
“If your only evidence is hearsay, he-said-she-said, that’s not evidence, that’s a story, so it’s hard for HR to really help you in that case, unless the other party confirms your story,” Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical, told Dice in a 2017 article about approaching HR over workplace issues.
Documentation is especially important because you can’t expect HR and management to automatically take your side. If the eventual investigation is inconclusive, nothing may happen in terms of punishing the perpetrator.
But in the wake of some high-profile personnel scandals (Uber is one of the most notable, but by no means the only one), HR departments and senior management are more attuned to the consequences of bad behavior, and more inclined to react to reports of misbehaving employees. If you need to report something, take heart in the fact that you’re doing the right thing.