Tube’s staff advisers to help beat bullying

London
Underground has overhauled its harassment policies and practices in a bid to
rid the company of its bullying culture by 2005.

The
organisation has trained around 45 staff members as advisors to give fellow
employees confidential advice on how to handle harassment.

Line
managers have also been extensively trained to investigate and rule on
complaints.

The
organisation has set itself short, medium and long-term targets to stamp out
harassment after a five-year study found a culture that accepted sexual and
racial harassment because managers did not have the skills to tackle the
problem.

London
Underground has already achieved its short-term objective to increase the
number of reported cases and staff disciplined for their behaviour.

Since
the scheme was launched in 2000, 86 formal complaints have been made compared
to ‘no more than a handful’ prior to the scheme’s introduction. It has led to
18 staff members being disciplined, including eight dismissals.

In
the medium-term, the company aims to shift to dealing with complaints
informally, while the long-term target is to reduce the number of complaints
and staff disciplined.

Terry
Day, equality champion at London Underground, believes the firm is on its way
to changing the company culture. "Our staff were scared of being seen as
trouble makers as the culture at the company was very vicious.

"It
was very difficult for staff as their complaints were met with disbelief and
seen as a nuisance. Managers did not have the required skills or experience to
deal with matters," he said.

Day
said the scheme is proving successful due to the company-wide communications
programme that includes using notice boards, briefings, newsletters, training
modules, management and staff guides. It also includes a video sent to all
staff emphasising the new zero tolerance approach to harassment.

By
Paul Nelson

 

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