Thank you to Jennie Horchover, The HR Dept Ruislip and Harrow for this post.
The recent incident at Sky Sports, resulting in the sacking of Andy Gray and the resignation of Richard Keys has certainly put the issue of sexism in the spotlight. The huge variety of responses both within the media and in day to day conversations among friends and colleagues show how complex the issues of sexual harassment and discrimination can be. Where is the line between having a laugh and being offensive? Does it make a difference if the comment is made in a private conversation which happens to have been overheard? Should things such as the underlying culture of the company or the seniority of the alleged offenders matter?
Unfortunately, these issues are not confined to the world of tv punditry or the football sector, and all employers have a responsibility to take these issues seriously. Ignoring incidents of harassment and discrimination can easily lead to employment tribunal claims. Employers should also ensure that they deal with all involved legally, fairly and with dignity.
Work place teams follow unwritten rules of behaviour created collectively by the group, and the level of jokes, comments and banter, and thus the cultural definition of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, can vary enormously between different teams and different organisations. However, in every workplace there are key measures that employers should put in place to protect themselves and provide an acceptable working environment for their employees.
• Have an up to date set of policies and procedures dealing with issues of discrimination, bullying and harassment.
• Ensure that these documents are distributed and understood by all employees
• Train employees, especially managers, on how to recognise, prevent and deal with these issues, and the implications of not doing so.
• Deal seriously, fairly and speedily with any discriminatory issue raised, combining a confidential and supportive approach with a thorough investigation, and instigating disciplinary proceedings when appropriate.
If you want assistance with any of this, then please contact the HR Dept.