Respect and responsibility in the workplace

When the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements erupted into the global spotlight, debates around discrimination, violence and misconduct brought age-old issues to the forefront, with the strong message that these behaviours will not be tolerated.

There have been various Australian reports and campaigns that have exposed the need to call out and address unacceptable behaviours at every level of society, including the workplace. For example:

The Workplace Bullying in Australia Report conducted in 2014 by the University of Wollongong and Beyond Blue revealed that 50% of Australians felt that they had been bullied at work.

The Everyone’s business: Fourth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2018 reported that “33% of people who had been in the workforce in the previous five years said they had experienced workplace sexual harassment.”

The 2019 Embracing Difference report by global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters showed that 90% of women feel discrimination exists in today’s workplaces, compared to 73% of men.

In March 2020, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report revealed that “workplace sexual harassment is prevalent and pervasive…”

The Set the Standard: Report on the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces (2021) revealed that 33% of staff working across parliamentary offices had experienced sexual harassment, and and over 50% reported some kind of bullying, harassment or real or attempted sexual assault.

From an organisational perspective, these insights pose significant risks to everyone involved, not to mention the fall out cost to the employers through lost productivity, high staff turnover, complaints, litigation, workers’ compensation claims, reputational damage, and toxic workplace cultures.

It is important for employers to note that, as part of the Government’s response to the Respect@Work report, the Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act 2021 (Cth) commenced on 11 September 2021. This legislative amendment makes changes to the Fair Work Act, the Sex Discrimination Act) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act with implications for all employers to consider.

In addition, new COVID-19 related workplace challenges, such as mandatory vaccinations and the emerging “vaccination economy” can potentially trigger a charged response from staff and clientele, thereby increasing the risk of occupational violence & aggression in the workplace.

To limit the employer’s risk, it is important that employers ensure that their staff review the workplace code of conduct and understand the organisation’s expectations and requirements regarding appropriate workplace conduct and the proper handling of grievances.

We are all responsible for standing up against bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence.

You can take a proactive approach by reviewing your workplace culture and offering your managers and teams a refresher training on bullying, harassment and discrimination.

RESPECT & RESPONSIBILITY IN THE WORKPLACE is an in-depth professional training and development program that is tailored to go beyond the usual bullying, harassment and discrimination session by promoting your organisational values, effective communication and a positive workplace culture, while providing an understanding of relevant legislation and organisational policies.

Are you ready to challenge your workplace culture?

WorkPlacePLUS can customise a training program to suit the specific needs of your organisation. For more information, please contact us today.

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