We’ve talked a lot about bullying at HSA – what it looks like in your salon, some tips to manage it, and the warning signs of toxic workplace culture.

Recently we chatted with HSA Ambassador Lily about what happened in her workplace, and the steps she took to try and stop it.

When Lily started working in a new salon, she noticed the owner was treating a workmate differently. “She was an apprentice and was made to do things she wasn’t yet trained to do,” Lily says. “Like, one day she cut someone’s hair, made it uneven by mistake and got a written warning for it. It was absolutely crazy.”

Lily recognised the apprentice was struggling, so she offered to mentor her and help build her confidence. “I said I was happy to help train her, offer advice and support.”

Eventually, the apprentice left the salon, and Lily admits it’s not easy supporting a co-worker who’s too afraid to speak up. “It’s really hard for apprentices to have the confidence to speak up and feel safe”

The biggest lesson for Lily was she needed recognise her limits, and accept that it won’t always be a success story. “There is a line that you have to draw between supporting and lifting someone else, and pushing too far and making things worse. They have to be ready to help themselves. They need to develop that inner strength.”

Another stylist Lily worked with, also suffered from bullying. But with Lily’s advice and encouragement, she spoke out. In this case, having Lily behind her was enough for her to stand up for herself.

“I think it was great she had someone to talk to,” Lily says. “It is such a big thing, to know someone who has been there, done it and conquered it. The more people have someone to talk to, they can relate with, the better.”

“We all need people who can relate to your situation, say, ‘Yes, OK, they know what I’m going through, and they are here for me’.”

It is so much harder to speak out when it feels like no one else is on your side. That’s why it’s so important to stand together as an industry, to look out for one another – and ourselves, too. At HSA, we focus on building confidence with our members, empowering one another to stand up for each other, so no one feels alone.

But it’s ultimately up to us, as hairstylists, to take the first step. “If you don’t demand respect yourself, if you don’t educate yourself and your workmates on your rights, it will just go on,” Lily says. “Unless we stand up to it, it’s not going to change.”

Lily’s advice to anyone struggling at work, either as a victim or witness to bullying, is to reach out. “You have support. There are options with HSA, and you can do it safely.”

“it’s really not unreasonable to expect to be happy, and treated with dignity at work.”