Bullying & Harassment

In the previous edition we looked at the benefits of making workplaces equal and diverse places by creating a work environment that has different insights, perspectives and experiences, all combining to offer a wider range of ideas and skills.

So ‘job done’ right? No, not exactly. By law all organisations (and all staff within them) have to then treat each other with respect and dignity. So do they? Well, most do. But according to Acas, Bullying & Harassment in the workplace is on the rise.

So what is harassment? 

Harassment is “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”.

harassment

Harassment can be a one-off incident for example, if a colleague makes a racist comment, or it can be a series of incidents or bullying which takes place over time. It can happen at work, but also outside work at work-related trips or social events, such as staff parties or team days. It isn’t just face-to-face either, as anyone who uses social media knows, online ‘chat’ can be just as toxic.

Examples of harassment include:

  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Unjustified criticism aimed at undermining you
  • Racist or homophobic comments, or jokes/pranks
  • Unjustified threats about your job
  • Physical violence
  • Humiliating behaviour

It doesn’t have to be linked directly to an obvious protected characteristic. In fact personal appearance, personality and body shape can also be used to harass and demean, as well as by association with someone from a protected group.

When ‘banter’ isn’t ‘banter’

Harassment is not always easy to define. A joke is a joke isn’t it? Well not if it offends, or is at the expense of someone else.

Donald Trump recently dismissed comments he had made about women as, ‘locker room banter’. Not only did this upset women, but also offend athletes and sports players who did not want to be associated with his derogatory comments – demonstrating nicely you can’t control who is offended, or how people feel. But things do change….Old TV sitcoms were full of racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments that, at the time, were ‘normal’. Now we are much more aware of the effect it has and is no longer acceptable.#

Why does it matter?

Often people are genuinely unaware of the affect their comments have or language and ‘joking’ is perceived as ‘normal’, but…..

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Bullying and harassment can make someone feel anxious and humiliated. Stress, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem caused by harassment or bullying can lead to job insecurity, illness, absence from work, and even resignation. Not good for business at all.

Not only does it have a negative effect on the employee, but if serious enough, can result in legal action, damages and loss of reputation. Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to protect ALL employees, to act ‘fairly’ and follow policies and procedures if a complaint is made.

If you do feel you are being subjected to bullying or harassment let your assessor, manager, or work colleague know or you can seek advice elsewhere such as:

Citizens Advice Bureau

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Acas helpline (0300 123 11 00)

http://www.acas.org.uk

Prevent – do you know what this means as an employer?

Prevent Explained

Prevent is a Government strategy about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of all types of extremism* and radicalisation*, including terrorism*. It is also about the promotion of British values.

Extremism and radicalisation might include violent Islamist groups, the extreme right wing and other causes.

At the heart of Prevent is safeguarding children and adults and providing early intervention to protect and divert people away from being drawn into terrorism.

Profile has a statutory duty to ‘prevent people  from being drawn into terrorism’. This is called the PREVENT DUTY, informing employers of apprentices helps us to do this.

britishvalues

Why do we need to be aware of prevent and extremism?

Prevent is not just about extremism, it is about promoting and teaching values such as tolerance and mutual respect. Profile will make sure any decisions with learners are appropriate and suitable.

Is extremism really a risk in our area?

Extremism takes many forms, including political, religious and misogynistic* extremism. Some of these may be a greater threat in some areas. Your local council and police will be able to advise if you have specific concerns or questions.

Prevent uses a range of measures to challenge extremism including:

  • Working with and supporting community groups and social enterprise projects who provide services and support to vulnerable people.
  • Working with faith groups and institutions to assist them in providing support and guidance to people who may be vulnerable.
  • Supporting local schools, local industry and partner agencies through engagement, advice and training.
  • Supporting people who are at risk of being drawn into terrorist or extremist activity through the Channel process.

What is Channel?

Channel is a programme that provides support to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism or extremism. The programme uses a multi-agency approach to protect vulnerable people by:

  • identifying individuals at risk.
  • assessing the nature and extent of the risk.
  • developing the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned.

Fore more information, visit http://www.ltai.info/what-is-channel/

What does this mean in practice and what are Profile doing?

Many of the things we already do at Profile help learners to be positive, happy members of society, which will contribute to Prevent. These include:

  • exploring other cultures and religions and promoting diversity
  • challenging prejudices and racist comments
  • developing critical thinking skills and a strong, positive self-identity
  • promoting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
  • active promotion of British values

We will provide learners with information so they understand how to protect themselves from extremist views that go against British values that they may encounter, now or later in their lives. We use a range of methods to protect learners from the risk of radicalisation, such as filters on equipment that access the internet to make sure they can’t access extremist and terrorist material and by vetting visitors who come into our training centres to deliver sessions. All our delivery staff are subject to DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks.

What can you do as an employer?

  1. You have a responsibility to share any concerns regarding your staff and allow the appropriate personnel to explore what the best course of action might be.
  2. If  you are concerned that someone you know may be at risk of radicalisation, you can call the local police on 101 or call the confidential anti-terrorist hotline number 0800 789 321 3.
  3. Provide opportunities for employees to discuss their own concerns about extremism, events in the news and about British values.
  4. Be alert to any changes in your employee’s behaviour that, in your professional opinion, give you cause for concern. There are often no obvious signs, however the following information may help:

Extremism

Change in behaviour and dress, allowing for trends in fashion, particularly in their late teens and early 20s.

Physical signs could indicate concerns relating to extremism such as tattoos that far right* organisation supporters will sometimes display.

Terrorism

There is no single way of identifying who is likely to be vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. Factors that may have some bearing on someone becoming vulnerable include:

  • peer pressure
  • influence from other people via the internet
  • bullying
  • crime against them or their involvement in crime, e.g. race/hate crime, anti social behaviour
  • family tensions
  • lack of self-esteem or identity
  • personal or political grievances

Concerns which should always be passed on are:

  • evidence of sharing of extremist websites
  • evidence of homophobic, religion based or racist bullying

External Sources

The following websites may also be useful for further information: HM Government Prevent duty guidance: for England and Wales.

http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevent-duty-guidance

What is Prevent? Let’s Talk About It.

http://www.ltai.info/what-is-prevent/

* Key Terms:

Extremism: vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values such as democracy, the rule of the law and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.

Radicalisation: the process by which a person comes to support extremism and terrorism.

Terrorism: a violent action against people or property, designed to create fear and advance a political, religious or ideological cause.

Misogynistic: showing hatred, dislike, mistrust or mistreatment of women.

Far right: groups or individuals who plan or commit serious criminal activity motivated by a political or ideological viewpoint which includes all or some of the following extreme nationalism, racialism, fascism, neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism.