Others in the channel say they've experienced similar bullying.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

May 27, 2021

3 Min Read
Workplace Bullying

The workplace bullying of a former Exertis employee, who’s seeking £6.6 million (US$9.3 million) in damages, has drawn the scorn of numerous execs in the channel.

We previously reported on the workplace bullying of Kieran Sidhu, who worked at the Hampshire, UK-based distributor until quitting three years ago. The Daily Mail reported a long racist campaign against him during his tenure with the company.

Employees told Sidhu he was the “only ethnic on the team.” In addition, they labeled him an “Arab shoe bomber.”

Moreover, Sidhu has already won claims of race discrimination, racial harassment and constructive dismissal against the firm.

In a statement to Channel Futures on Wednesday, Exertis said the workplace bullying was a unique case across a business of more than 1,800 employees.

“However, it was clear that certain behaviours fell significantly below the standards we expect,” the company stated. “Our response and ongoing commitments to invest heavily in increasing awareness in relation to diversity will ensure that this should never happen again.”

‘Nothing Short of Cruel’

Steve Smith is founder of buyerintent.ai, a London-based company that provides buyer-intent data to the IT channel. In a LinkedIn post, he said what happened to Sidhu was “nothing short of cruel.”

“There’s nothing worse than this kind of systemic bullying except maybe continuing to cover it up with corporate falsehoods,” he said. “The mind boggles and I can’t believe this still happens, but I’m white and not likely to see it. That’s the problem. We have to be more aware and more prepared to jump in and protect, and whistle blow.”

Smith did say he’s sure “good people are in the majority” at Exertis, and “you can say that for almost any organization that has systemic issues.”

But Smith was far from the only businessperson to take to social media with support for Sidhu.

Gary Shipton is a former international sales manager. He said this is another example where HR punishes the victim and rewards the bully.

“This kind of thing will only stop once HR are made legally responsible and face punishment themselves,” he said.

Vladislav Marinov, global reporting lead of sustainability, diversity and inclusion at NTT, asked Exertis, “How are you not ashamed and have not taken any action still? These people causing so much pain need to be fired,” he said. “What kind of a place is this? I hope I don’t find this company on NTT’s supplier list.”

Similar Workplace Bullying Experiences

Mevish Aslam, founder of Sprinters, said she’s been through a similar situation with another employer.

“The company chose to fire me and promote the bully involved,” she said. “I was glad to leave. Too many companies talk the talk; very few are willing to stand up for what’s right.”

Exertis-LinkedIn.jpgAshraf Aboukass, global head of security architecture, operations and engineering at Schroders, said he’s also experienced similar racism.

“I was born and bred in London, and I first experienced racism from early as primary school,” he said. “When I first started work [I] suffered similar issues. I feel for him.”

And John Haw, managing director at Fidelity Energy, said there are “no excuses for this behavior.”

“It will kill the company, customers and suppliers will leave them in droves,” he said. “Management will pay the price for these failures, as they should. The business will be dead within a year. Who wants to trade with a bunch of racists? No one.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Edward Gately or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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