Back to basics: Cultivating a culture of openness

Prevention of harassment at work.

You’re clued up on discrimination and harassment in the workplace, you’ve put down the foundations – two thumbs up – now let’s take a look at creating a culture of openness, trust and respect.

After all, it is in this culture that your people and your company will thrive, owing to increased job satisfaction, productivity and brand advocacy. Win-win.

As a side note: creating this culture is the responsibility of employers and employees alike, it’s a collaboration so let’s get cultivating…


Set clear guidelines

Company values are your tools, they’re not just rules. They should be lived and breathed in the day-to-day working environment.

Setting clear and consistent company values is crucial for defining acceptable and unacceptable workplace behaviours.

You’re setting expectations, and ensuring everyone understands, respects and upholds these expectations. You’re also setting values against which performance should be determined – it’s not just about numbers and targets. When someone’s behaviour is at odds with the business values, it’s a red flag.

And this extends to your recruitment process too. Lay the foundations early and assess candidates not only on whether they can do the job, but whether they will fit with your company’s culture.

Competency questions with specific examples to assessing approach and attitude should provide insight into how a candidate will interact with your organisation and teams. Doing this can save a lot of time and expense in the repeat recruitment process if the team fit isn’t right for them as much as for your company.


A cliché, but honesty really is the best policy

Who is willing to hold their hands up and admit responsibility when things go wrong?

Honesty creates trust, and in turn inspires a similar reaction in others. With trust comes a culture where openness is encouraged and valued. This is crucial for ensuring colleagues feel able to report harassment and have confidence in their complaint being acted upon.


Listen and give voice

When employees have all of the above – clear expectations, a feeling of self-worth and respect and trust in openness – they have the confidence to speak up.

As the 2016 TUC and Everyday Sexism Project report, Still just a bit of banter, revealed 79% of respondents who had experienced sexual harassment did not report it to their employer. While you may not have a history of sexual harassment in your workplace, there may be an unspoken undercurrent that you’re not aware of – have you asked?

Empower your people by giving them a voice. Perhaps adding a question to your annual employee survey on attitudes and experiences of harassment would prove a valuable insight.

And when they do speak up, listen and react.

So what are you waiting for? Get cultivating!

Need some practical ideas and guidance? Want to find out latest best practice on prevention methods for harassment, discrimination and bullying? Why not sign up to one of our upcoming breakfast seminars or one of our online workshops? Click here for more information

Want to read more? Check out these related blogs:

Valuing anonymity: workplace harassment reporting

Back to basics: a sexual harassment crib sheet

Back to basics: harassment and discrimination in the workplace


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