Media and News company, Tech Cabal set an avalanche rolling on toxic bosses with an article on the CEO of tech start-up, Bento Africa, Ebunoluwa Okunbanjo.
The crackdown on Ebun was as a result of alleged verbal abuse, ranging from unconscionable curse words and verbal abuse, refusing to grant leave and time off, erratic termination without following due process – basically just deactivating their emails and slack accounts, he was also accused of allegedly telling laid-off employees that they wouldn’t get a job anywhere.
Ebun has denied all the allegations.
As the article dropped, more people started to speak up about their toxic bosses, a Twitter space that had a cumulative of 98,000+ listeners and lasted for over seven hours was opened where people bemoaned their toxic bosses.
The most targeted companies were tech start-ups. Many people said the equivalent of international companies were nothing like their Nigerian counterparts in terms of employee welfare, even NGOs that are supposed to uplift women were accused of being brutal to employees and damaging their self-esteem.
Perhaps the most shocking is the payment of meagre amounts as salaries, sexual harassment, insults and the lack of basic human decency and respect for people’s time and personal life.
The nature of a tech start-up is almost a recipe for this kind of tyranny – a bright-eyed young person with a brilliant idea isn’t necessarily fit to lead people.
Seyi worked at a tech start-up and this was his experience, “I was working in a fintech start-up owned by one man. He just made a lot of money from crypto that time because bitcoin had gone up like crazy. It was 100% remote, so I never met him.”
He hit on my closest work friend then he was 40 years old and she was 22. One day, he was complaining about our work rate and told us that if we are not careful, he will close the company that he had made enough money from crypto to survive. That was the day I started looking for another job. I left like a month after he said that but he stopped paying salaries after two months and everyone else eventually realised that they were jobless.”
That wanton disregard for employees is one of the worst things about these companies.
Oriaku said this about her toxic boss, “My former boss used to always come to the office near closing hours. She will bring up different tasks and say no one is going home until we are done.”
Sometimes team leads and heads of departments can make your life equally as chaotic.
Mary says, “Ever heard of crying and working at the same time? Nothing you ever do will be right. Whenever you remember work, hot tears mehn.”
A former NGO employee said, “I was conspired against because I wasn’t the same tribe as they were. When a new staff member came, they drove me away from my seat and said God will do my own because I was just a contract staff.”
Why the pervasiveness of toxic workplaces?
A basic lack of structure in a one man business. A place where appropriate mechanisms are not put in place to control and check bad behaviour.
The work of human resources is to ensure that employees are comfortable mentally and physically and can work effectively but where the human resources department does not exist or are dormant, complicit or equally evil then the tyrannical startup CEO has unbridled power and authority.
It is said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely because how else do you explain being sacked for not singing happy birthday on your bosses’ birthday. It seems to be a page out of a joke book.
But the lack of litigation is staggering, these actions violate people’s human rights and are against labour laws. Perhaps if more people were sued for this terrible conduct, we might see a reduction.
The court of public opinion is also important, sharing your experiences at these places and with these bosses, especially when you do not work there anymore can deter people from seeking employment there and open them to some public ridicule and that is some behavioural check