I set out to find a recording of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; however, I am thankful I found instead the ABC Holiday Special “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving”. Sung from her high school cafeteria, which had been “Gaga-fied” for the occasion, I was fortunate to catch the performance Lady Gaga gave of one of her hit songs I had not yet heard.

“Hair” is an anthem to those who did not have a seat at the cafeteria table, rallying them to be proud of their personal identity and to have faith that each one of us deserves respect for our own individuality. It is also an ode to her realization that, rather than assimilate to the masses, she’d prefer to emulate her mother.

Ms. Gaga equates herself to being one of those children who didn’t have a seat the cafeteria table of her choice when she was younger, and very much identifies as a victim of bullying. Our society has been facing the grimmest of circumstantial outcomes when it comes to bullying. With tragic youth suicides more common in our headlines, bullying has become a distinct glaring problem.

Bullying has been on Lady Gaga’s bulls-eye with laser point ferocity. She offers her battle cries not to nay sayers, but rather to those being arbitrarily “nay sayed”. Therefore not only inspiring people to understand the deeper wounds of bullying, but to also create a race of her “little monsters” who are nothing but proud to defend themselves and their own thoughts.

I have encountered more than a few raised eyebrows when speaking of Lady Gaga and her outside-the-box art. Fan or not, however, anyone that proudly utilizes their public voice to amplify a message of acceptance, respect and individuality should be praised. People such as Lady Gaga are the game changers and innovators.

With similar intentions, actions and outcomes we now know that bullying isn’t just a schoolyard experience; it also happens in the workplace.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has compiled some great examples of toxic behaviours you have every right to avoid encountering while at work, such as:

  • Gossip – Spreading rumours, false or true information.
  • Excluding or isolating someone socially.
  • Physically abusing, threatening physical abuse, or using intimidation.
  • Using inappropriate, ‘obviously offensive’ humour in conversation or digitally.
  • Violating privacy and personal space by pestering, spying or stalking.
  • Yelling or using profanity.
  • Criticising a person persistently or constantly.

Some more workplace specific experiences might be:

  • Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work.
  • Withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information.
  • Belittling a person’s opinions, creativity or innovation, regardless of success.
  • Tampering with a person’s personal belongings or work equipment.

Indications of “bullying” from management may include:

  • Having areas of responsibilities removed without cause.
  • Constantly having work guidelines changed.
  • Not afforded responsibilities, creating a sense of uselessness.
  • Unwarranted disciplinary actions.
  • Blocking applications for training, leave or promotion

According to the Ontario Safety Association for Community and Healthcare Workplace Bullying Handbook one in 10 Canadian workers has been the subject of harmful bullying, intimidation or belittlement by a boss or co-worker. In 70% of the cases, the bullying only stopped when the victim quit or was let go. In a further 17%, the victim was transferred. Even worse, the bully suffered consequences in only 13% of cases.

It’s safe to say Lady Gaga is devoted to teaching society the following:

  1. Being your complete self can be a source of innovation.
  2. Everyone is welcome to the table.
  3. Discrimination and Bullying are never acceptable.

Aren’t these the same concepts we hope to instil within our organizations to help them function with higher quality?

Business leaders from here on out should be thankful to Lady Gaga. She is encouraging and coaching our youth to be better people, which in turn will lead them to become better employees and employers. It will only cost our organizations more in the long run when we have to spend our resources combating an issue like bullying – something we all had assumed was just “kids being kids”. Lady Gaga’s efforts are securing a safer and more innovative workplace of tomorrow. We must follow her lead by taking the time to address the cause and effect of bullying that our youth face on a daily basis now, so that we do not expend great resources in the future combating these identical issues in our workplaces.

In tribute to those denied acceptance, throughout Ms. Gaga’s performance, she continued to add additional hair pieces to her ensemble. The first being a turban of golden brown hair, and finally a long teal hair extension that she bobby-pinned into the top of her freshly placed hair hat.

She states while adding the final piece of teal hair:

“Just one more piece of hair; and this one is for all the kids who are bullied at school who are afraid to be themselves. I’m going to put this big funny piece of teal on my hair and tell you that I feel fabulous because it is my freedom and my choice to do so, and I hope that every day at school you remember, you remember that there is somebody who is fighting for you.“

about the author - Elaine

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