Dignity and respect

Dignity Champions: Job description

Grade: n/a
Location: University of Sussex
Role type: this is an office, open to staff at all levels. The substantive role remains unchanged.
Line manager: Assistant Director of HR (OD, Culture and Inclusion)
FTE: 0.1
Term of office: 3 years in the first instance

What do Dignity Champions do?

To support our new Dignity and Respect Policy, we have a network of Dignity Champions. Dignity Champions provide confidential and informal advice to those who feel they are experiencing difficult working relationships, including bullying or harassment, or who have witnessed such behaviour. They are a group of trained individuals who may be employees in any staff group. They can listen, talk through the options available and, if appropriate, signpost to other sources of support and advice.

What skills do Dignity Champions need to have?


  • listens in a way that is attentive and non-judgemental
  • deploys effective questioning, affirmation, summarising and reflection
  • reads body language and uses body language to support communication
  • able to synthesise multiple strands of information and find a way through
  • empathetic
  • open-minded, aware of unconscious bias
  • knowledgeable about the relevant policies and practices, and able to translate these into clear information and options for ways forward
  • sets clear boundaries
  • builds trusting relationships quickly
  • maintains focus so that discussions are outcome focused
  • contains own emotions and manages themselves and their own values appropriately
  • able to contribute to the wider team of Dignity Champions


  • coaching skills
  • experience working with issues of Dignity and Respect
  • knowledge of relevant policies and practices

What are the Main Responsibilities of Dignity Champions?

To meet with individuals and provide appropriate support such as:

  • listening effectively to their concerns and fully exploring issues raised
  • help them analyse the problem
  • provide good information on the University’s relevant policies and procedures
  • help them understand the courses of action available to them
  • advise on sources of support

If the individual wants to attempt an informal resolution, the adviser can:

  • explain the informal procedures
  • help them to think about how they might approach the other party, and come up with a form of words to frame their concerns.

If the individual wants to make a formal complaint, they can:

  • explain the formal procedure
  • advise the individual about how they might prepare a complaint, and the procedure to be followed.

Dignity Champions will work as part of a team of Champions, offering mutual support, advice and sharing responsibility for updating the VC and DPVC EDI on the content and extend of issues in their caseload.

And what does a Dignity Champion not do?

  • decide or give a view about what behaviour constitutes discrimination and /or harassment
  • give legal advice
  • offer ongoing emotional support
  • act as a representative if the individual decides to take action
  • attend meetings with the individual when the issue is being resolved
  • write letters on the individual’s behalf
  • mediate or negotiate between the individual seeking advice and the alleged perpetrator.

How do I find out more or express an interest in becoming a Dignity Champion?

All members of staff at University of Sussex are eligible to apply for this role. As this is an office, permission to take on this role will need to be sought from the line manager.

To find out more about this important new role contact Ben Spencer, the HR Business Partner who is managing the process of recruiting our Dignity Champions, on B.Spencer@sussex.ac.uk.

In January we will be running an Assessment Centre for those interested in becoming a Dignity Champion. At this event you will have an opportunity to practise the skills needed to be an effective Dignity Champion. We will then select Dignity Champions who have been able to demonstrate the required skills and who also, as a team, reflect the diversity of our staff.