Corporate Hyenas @ Work by Susan Marais-Steinman and Magriet Herman
is a sensitively written guide to the silent workplace epidemic that has become an international phenomenon. The audiences are individuals harassed by others at work, co-workers who witness the abuse, and family members who want to better understand the stages of decline and rebirth their loved ones endure as a result. However, the astute executive or government bureaucrat will recognize the requisite steps to creating a workplace free of bullies. Bullies are hyenas in this tale written on the African continent. They quickly become the international metaphor for especially cruel people who populate the workplace and terrorize others, often colluding (as pack animals do) to shatter lives, careers and families of innocent victims of their tyranny. The effective metaphor tends to elevate the phenomenon beyond the familiar, to make the reader take notice that this happens everywhere. It manages to convince the reader that she or he is a member of a worldwide class of people, not just a lone employee.

This is a picture of the cover of the first edition of Corporate Hyenas 
at Work and the review by the Drs Namie is on the first edition

The book is a combination of thoroughly researched fact, fine prose, an open and accessible page composition, ambitious illustrations and wisdom about recovering and preventing personal devastation. The authors clearly know their audience because the design and uncomplicated writing invite the anxiety-ridden reader to a safe place to learn about what has plagued them for years and what to do about it. Handy illustrations in the margins even immunize the reader to expect emotionally-charged points. These devices are appreciated by traumatized readers who have difficulty tackling the book about such a personal matter in a single sitting. For those not directly experienced with bullying, the special attention does not detract from the easy flow throughout the text.

The personal experiences of both authors drove the project, but invisibly guide both the awareness-raising phase of the book and the coaching sections. In a short 165 pages, they manage to document the typology of individuals who terrorize others, the predictable support given by employers to the tyrants and what targets of bullying can do to recover. They are especially wise about the cycles of degradation and recovery innocent targets of hyena attacks predictably and necessarily pass through. In the end , the book is inspirational to readers because it bears witness that once victimized, a person can become "hyenawise", better able to repel future attacks by tyrants.

The authors even find time to take the long view about the support hyenas draw from the "globalization" movement and its tacit disregard for the welfare of employees worldwide. As national boundaries fade and the corporations become nations unto themselves, it is even more important that workers unite across national boundaries to demand justice and freedom from such unconscionable aggression sanctioned by employers. Abuse occurs in all nations, even if mainstream media coverage, fascinated by financial reports of the conglomerates, ignores the plight of millions. Marais-Steinman and Herman make a cogent case for lionizing South Korean workers fighting for their rights.

Corporate Hyenas ranks by far as the most comprehensive, yet most easily understood title in the international market. Those of us not in South Africa can only hope the best selling book gets published around the world. Many millions of people need to hear the profound messages found there.

The People Bottomline

Owned by an Ashoka Fellow

Workplace Dignity Institute