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