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Dignity and Respect | Wolfson College Intranet

Dignity and Respect

Wolfson College is a community dedicated to working within an atmosphere of tolerance, providing a supportive and open environment where all employees are encouraged to use their talents fully.

Whilst the College fully accepts its responsibilities under current legislation (Equality Act 2010) it aims to go beyond the strict confines of the law to main an environment where every person is respected and treated in a manner that values their individuality and diversity.

As well as covering such issues as discrimination, bullying and harassment, this policy extends to all forms of behavior that may cause upset or offence to another individual, whether intentional or inadvertent.

This policy will be communicated to all employees so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and the College will monitor all incidents and will review the effectiveness of this policy. The Bursar has the overall responsibility for ensuring that this Policy is effectively communicated, implemented and monitored.

Equality and Diversity

The College undertakes not to discriminate, or condone discrimination, against any person on the grounds of gender, age, marital status or civil partnership, race or ethnicity, religious beliefs, pregnancy/maternity, disability of any kind, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, political opinion or affiliation, responsibility for dependents or social background.

The College will endeavour to ensure that there will be equality of opportunity in recruitment, training, development and promotion throughout. All such judgements will be made solely on the grounds of merit.

Where a person has a disability, the College will consider reasonable adjustments that can be made to enable that person to be engaged, or continue to carry out a job for which they would otherwise be

Every individual has their own strengths and weaknesses which make them different from others.

Understanding this is important and the differences should be valued and used to their full advantage. Using diversity is an important aspect of management.

Working in a multi-cultural Environment

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in a multi-cultural environment is that it provides an opportunity for interaction with people from many different countries and cultures. However this can lead to misunderstandings and simple gestures can be misinterpreted. For example, the acceptable distance between two people talking changes from country to country.

Therefore if the person you are talking to steps back, possibly you are making them feel uncomfortable by standing too close.

Simple gestures such as putting a hand on someone’s shoulder or touching their hand or arm may be misinterpreted. It is therefore important to be sensitive to others feelings and to avoid behaviors which may be questionable to them.

If there is an occasion when you are offended by someone’s behavior, talk to them about it as they may be unaware of the impact of their actions. People can have different tolerance levels and treating everyone with respect and dignity is everyone’s responsibility.

Bullying and Harassment

There are many definitions of bullying and harassment


may be characterized as any behavior intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. In any form it is unacceptable behavior and as such will trigger disciplinary procedures against staff behaving contrary to this policy. Complaints of bullying and/or harassment, or information from staff relating to such complaints, will be dealt with fairly, confidentially and sensitively.


Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct that either violates a person’s dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. It may be sexual, moral or racial in nature. It may be related to any personal characteristic of the individual (whether perceived or real) or by association (i.e. related to the individual’s relationship or dealings with others who have that personal characteristic). It may be persistent or an isolated incident and can take many forms from relatively mild banter to actual physical violence.

The kind of language and behaviour that is acceptable in today’s world is in some cases very different to that of the past and employees must be mindful of the words they use in their everyday contact with others. There may be phrases or comments in use that would have been viewed as “harmless” or banter or a light hearted joke but might well be viewed now in a different light.

Employees may not always realise that their behaviour constitutes bullying or harassment but they must recognise that what is acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another. Behaviour that is considered bullying by one person may be considered firm management by another. Most people will agree on extreme cases of bullying and harassment, but it is sometimes the ‘grey’ areas that cause most problems.

The College considers the following unacceptable behaviour

Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position.

Spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone (particularly on the grounds of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, age and religion or belief).

Copying memos, letters or emails that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know.

Ridiculing or demeaning someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail.

Making jokes of a sexist or racist nature or derogatory name calling.

Using offensive language including swearing.

Exclusion, non-co-operation or victimization including exclusion from conversations or social activities.

Unfair treatment.

Unwelcome sexual advances or comments of a sexual nature, touching, standing too close, display of offensive materials.

Making threats or comments about job security without foundation.

Deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism.

Preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.

Virtual bullying – includes distribution of unwanted emails, texts, images or humiliating data published on social networking internet sites or abusing company technological facilities to contact the employee in an intimating or malicious manner.

Coercion – including threats of dismissal or loss of promotion etc. for refusal of sexual favours (or promises made in return for sexual favours); pressure to participate in political or religious groups etc.


Any employee who feels that they are the subject of bullying or harassment should, in the first instance, keep a record of instances where they feel they are being bullied or harassed.

They should then talk to the individual concerned, with a witness if possible, to explain that their conduct is unwelcome, considered by the recipient to be bullying or harassment and that it is to stop. (This procedure is encouraged in order to empower the individual to deal with what may be only a chance remark, which has not been intended to cause offence but has occurred due to a misunderstanding.)

Where a formal complaint is made investigations will be undertaken as soon as possible and procedures will follow the College’s grievance procedure. Where necessary and/or appropriate, other staff may be required to give evidence. Such witnesses will be afforded appropriate protection in accordance with this policy. Such investigations may result in disciplinary action being taken.

If recommended and agreed by the parties involved, following the outcome of the investigation and grievance procedure

The College undertakes to provide: –

External counselling and support

Training for staff and managers as required

Protection from victimization

Under This Policy

It is everyone’s responsibility to value and respect others. Employees at all levels are responsible for ensuring that everyone’s dignity is respected and that the working environment is harmonious. This requires that behaviors should never cause offence or be considered to be harassment or bullying.

Managers at all levels must ensure the implementation of this policy, which will be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis by the Bursar.

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