The Shield of Silence

How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace

Non-Fiction - General
308 Pages
Reviewed on 10/15/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Shield Of Silence is a work of non-fiction discussing serious social issues and was penned by author Lauren Stiller Rikleen. Subtitled “How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace”, this informative and powerful work focuses on the victims of sexual harassment and negative behavior, and suggests that true progress must be made in removing the stigmas associated with reporting such behaviours if the overall issue is to be resolved. Using a myriad of different evidence-based approaches, the work provides an in-depth analysis of the dynamics of workplace culture, along with implementation strategies for improving the system.

Though it is primarily focused on the harassment and silencing of women in the workplace, this is a valuable guide to end the non-reporting culture for any minority or persecuted victim in any business. Author Lauren Stiller Rikleen writes with conviction and plenty of justification for her topic, opening our eyes to the startling undercurrent of silence, even in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Rikleen’s prose is fluid and compelling, taking readers through facts and figures at an accessible level, and drawing cogent parallels between the statistics we see, and the cultures we have all come to know. The road map provided for the future has an excellent grounding and offers superb value to those willing to implement real change. Overall, The Shield Of Silence is an essential read for everyone, be they managerial or not, to better understand and interpret the cultural climate around them and promote positive change.

Romuald Dzemo

The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace by Lauren Stiller Rikleen is a well-researched and brilliantly articulated non-fiction book that addresses the disturbing question: Why do perpetrators of sexual harassment and misconduct in workplaces often go scot-free? The answer is: Victims, as well as witnesses, are afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation, so the perpetrators use the silence to shield themselves. This is a book that will strongly resonate in the hearts of corporate workers and those who work in other areas. The author does an impeccable job in exploring the subtle ways in which people in top positions can use power to manipulate subordinates and coerce others into silence while acts of abuse are being perpetrated unchecked.

This book looks at the naked truth without flinching, a look that is both observant and critical and one that draws the reader’s attention to facts that are easily pushed under the rug. Lauren Stiller Rikleen demonstrates a unique mastery of the psychology of power trippers and intelligently explores the role of power in the abuse that takes place in workplaces. The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace echoes the voices of many victims from different work backgrounds and situations. In a comprehensive manner, this book creates awareness in the reader’s mind of a phenomenon that causes suffering in many places where people work together and one that has strong legal implications. The writing is strong, the voice compelling, and the style light. The conversational tone combines with real-life examples to give the book a flair that is hard to ignore.

Mamta Madhavan

The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace by Lauren Stiller Rikleen is an interesting book that deals with the controversial topic of sexual harassment and other negative behaviors associated with the workplace and how many women suffer silently. The insights in this book will help anyone who wants to work towards creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace ambiance. It is not always easy to completely eliminate negative behaviors in the workplace unless the victims are given a chance to speak, which many do not due to fear of risking their jobs. This book is a good tool for all readers to effect a change that will work positively for everyone.

The author speaks about the topic in detail and extensively so readers will become familiarized with the wide range of behaviors that can cause misery in the workplace. She also speaks about why many women still feel silence is the best strategy when it comes to dealing with harassment and bullying. Her research on the subject and recommendations to deal with workplace misconduct are good to encourage women to change their thinking from that of 'silence is the best strategy' when it comes to dealing with workplace harassment and bullying. It is a must-read for HR Managers, Managerial Executives, and others holding key positions to evaluate the workplace culture and make it a safe place for women to work freely, instead of making them silently suffer the negative behaviors of their colleagues and people they deal within the workplace. The book also gives awareness on how to identify patterns of negative behaviors.

Vernita Naylor

Harassment and bullying happen everywhere, from the workplace and at home to social media. Harassment and bullying execute various forms of intimidation causing fear and insecurities. In The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace by Lauren Stiller Rikleen, you will learn a lot as you read through nine clear, well-written and easy to understand chapters about the grave costs that misconduct causes, and how harassment in different forms - including what goes unreported - can have a tremendous impact in numerous ways in the workplace. This book shows that in most cases harassment starts at the top with senior management and can trickle down. This material is rooted in a study by the Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts (WBA) that actually blossomed through further research and interviews when the author noted how this silent pestilence needed to not only be called out and challenged but brought to trial and convicted.

You can start anywhere in this book from Fighting Back Against Backlash and The Pervasiveness of Misconduct to Do You See What I See? and know that the information provided will not only be insightful, thought-provoking and profound but helpful in teaching you the nuances of harassment and bullying. If you did a small sample and spoke to about 25 men and 25 women, you would discover than at least five have either experienced bullying or harassment. Also, it is important to understand that bullying and harassment can go in other directions as well. For example, when a man comments on a woman's dress, how it is interpreted by the receiver (woman) is where an issue may or may not occur. I also enjoyed the Executive Summary and Analysis research data that supports the findings in the book and paints a picture of how this problem is continually evolving. Harassment is happening everywhere and it needs to stop so do your part. Pick up your copy of this excellent book today. Enjoy!

Astrid Iustulin

Sexual harassment and other negative behaviors women suffer in their workplaces are burning questions nowadays. Even after the #MeToo movement, victims still find it difficult to seek justice because they deal with a system that does not protect them. Many of them do not report the abuse because they do not believe that any action will be taken and fear retaliation. In her well-researched and extensive study, The Shied of Silence, Lauren Stiller Rikleen points out that women endure discrimination in many ways. Many of them are not illegal but affect the victims' lives and careers. With references to studies and victims’ interviews, Rikleen makes an excellent analysis and points out that a change of culture is necessary to improve the situation.

It is always a pleasure to read well-documented books like The Shield of Silence, but in this case, what prevails is a feeling of indignation for the somber picture it paints. The Shield of Silence is praiseworthy for the variety of its themes. It tackles every significant topic related to discrimination and abuse in the workplace. Rikleen refers to well-known facts that immediately help readers to understand how serious the problem is. It is worrying that harassment is so widespread. I like that Rikleen points out that the consequences of wrong behaviors do not have a negative impact just on women but also on men. They, too, could lose opportunities because of the distrust that this situation causes. I think we can all share Rikleen’s idea of constructing a policy that will finally help and support the victims. It will enormously benefit our society from every point of view.