Broadcast: News items

Update on the Dignity and Respect Policy Consultation

Professor Claire Annesley, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equalities and Diversity) - and Chair of the Staff Survey Steering Group

In May 2019 we published the University’s Staff Survey Action Plan ‘Listening, Celebrating and Taking Action’ which included a commitment to deliver a new Dignity and Respect policy as well as new Dignity Champions.

At the end of May we launched a consultation process on the draft Dignity and Respect policy, which ran until the end of July. The consultation was conducted by Heather Paver, an external consultant, in order to reassure those feeding back that all views would be heard in confidence.

Views were shared via an email drop box (circa 90 people), in six group sessions, and 20 one-to-one sessions. We also received feedback from the campus unions, the USSU, through the Changing University Cultures (CHUCL) project and through Schools or Divisions.

Our Vice-Chancellor, Adam Tickell, has passed on his personal thanks to everyone who fed into the consultation and was particuarly pleased that so many colleagues took the time to share their views.

We promised to share with you the key themes we heard from you during the consultation and how that changes the draft policy.


Overall the policy is seen as welcome and clearly written. People like that is inclusive - dealing with the whole University community - and that it starts with what is expected rather than from when things go wrong.

  • We will keep the aspirational and inclusive policy message.

However, there are concerns that the document needs to be much clearer about the different steps in the process: who does what, what timescales are likely, as well as how these are different for staff and students.

  • We will separate the overarching principles of the policy from the processes and procedures so that these are clear and transparent.
  • We will develop flowcharts to simplify the process and publish these online to make the material fully accessible, including links to other relevant policies.

There is support for the use of examples to illustrate behaviours that are encouraged and/or not acceptable, but your feedback is that these should be specific and should cover a broader range of examples and case studies.

  • We will move the examples of behaviours into an appendix so that they can be fleshed out and kept up to date. We will develop and share case studies online of how to tackle unacceptable behaviours.

There are strong concerns that the policy, however carefully crafted, counts for little without committed enforcement to tackle unacceptable behaviour.

  • We will address this in two ways: first, through mandatory dignity and respect training for all staff, including improving our skills in challenging bad behaviour when we see it, and second, through the Dignity Champions

There was strong support for the introduction of new Dignity Champions, as long as they are allowed to be impartial, properly supported and rewarded. Respondents to the consultation had a preference for them to be appointed from across the University in an open and transparent way.

  • We will adopt a fresh to appointing to these roles, holding open meetings and then assessment centres to help us to identify a broad and diverse range of Dignity Champions. We are currently working through the options in terms of their reward, training and support.

The new Dignity and Respect policy and more information about Dignity Champions will be launched at the start of the new academic year.

Claire Annesley, Chair of the Staff Survey Steering Group

By: Sean Armstrong
Last updated: Friday, 6 September 2019