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Lack of Dignity at Work or Expecting Respect?
You may have read about the report from an independent inquiry by Dame Laura Cox into allegations that parliamentary staff – both male and female had directly experienced or witnessed, “disturbing” levels of bullying, harassment and abuse by colleagues and MPs, which was made worse by the inadequacy of the procedures in place to tackle it.

She reported that women working at the House of Commons were subjected to “predatory” contact and treated like “personal servants” by MPs and whilst the inquiry found that harassment was widespread across the House of Commons workforce, the most serious allegations related to “predatory” behaviour by several individuals.

MPs’ staff alleged they were subjected to, or witnessed:
• frequent inappropriate touching;
• invasion of personal space;
• repeated physical contact, such as men patting women’s heads, putting their arms around women, trying to kiss them, leaving their hand on their knee, and stroking them;
• abuse in vulgar gender-related terms if women failed to do something, did something in a way that was considered inadequate or took too long;
• repeated propositions;
• repeated questioning about their personal lives; and
• groups of male MPs making repeated innuendos, lewd comments or inappropriate gestures.

Dame Laura Cox said in her report: “Rather than professional, collaborative relationships of mutual respect and an open and supportive atmosphere, such misconduct has been able to thrive over many years, and to become entrenched as part of an excessively hierarchical, ‘command and control’ and deferential culture, which has no place in any organisation in the 21st century.

“The general description is therefore of a corrosive culture, in which bullying and harassment, in particular of women, have become normalised and which cascades down through the structures.

This report is of course only looking at one institution and it found some shocking examples of poor behaviour, but it is important to consider what an independent investigation would find if someone looked at your business. What would they find with regards to the normalised behaviours? Would it be an environment that welcomed employees of all backgrounds, prepared to deal with any complaints swiftly and fairly? Or would it find an organisation that condoned bullying and harassment that was prepared to pay large tribunal awards to those targeted by such behaviour?

If having thought about this, you would like some help or advice making changes to your business, please get in touch.
Posted on 22 Oct 2018

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