September 02, 2007

Fat words...

We came across a document titled 'Equality & Diversity' put together by The Association of University Administrators (AUA), the Higher Education Equal Opportunities Network (HEEON) and the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU).

We quote:

'Bullying can be defined as offensive behaviour which violates a person's dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment, or which humiliates or undermines an individual or group. Such behaviour can be vindictive, cruel or malicious.

Bullying is generally considered to be a form of harassment that is not directly related to
discrimination. For example, the law explicitly covers sexual and racial harassment but at present does not explicitly cover bullying. Bullying can cause stress and employers may fail in their duty of care to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of employees, if they do not take steps to prevent it. Most HEIs now have policies, guidelines and codes of practice covering bullying.

Bullying can take various forms, from name calling, sarcasm, teasing, and unwarranted criticism, to threats of violence or actual physical violence. The Health and Safety Executive estimates that bullying costs employers up to 80 million working days a year in lost productivity and over £2 billion a year in lost revenue, Bullying can also cause low morale and produce a high turnover of staff


'Dignity is the human quality of being worthy of esteem or respect. Dignity at work refers to a set of principles, values and practices which ensures that all individuals are able to maintain their self-esteem and work in an environment free from all types of harassment and bullying.'

Dear AUA, HEEON and ECU,

We are all aware that most HEIs now have policies, guidelines and codes of practice covering bullying. The question is what happens when management are doing the bullying and then investigate themselves? Fact: Self-regulation does not work and the only recourse for the victims/targets is to suffer, lose their jobs and if they have the energy and money to pursue their case through the courts. Is this satisfactory?

So dear Dear AUA, HEEON and ECU, thank you for your lovely definitions. Now tell us how you will hold accountable the offenders. The landscape is littered with good academics suffering. Your definitions are just that, definitions and fat words, meaningless unless there is some action. Stop killing forests with lovely booklets and prospectuses - get beyond your fat words and save the taxpayer some real money.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For example, the Director of the Institute of Education in London - Geoff Whitty - faces a tribunal case (Times Higher 22/6/07)

The allegation is sex discrimination involving a senior colleague.

One would imagine that the academics in this institution are at a bit of a loss as to who to turn to....

Interestingly the British Educational Research
Association is holding its Annual Conference at the Institute this week.... so a chance maybe to view a Director who is unable to manage employment relationships without them spilling out into the public domain in this - one would have thought - somewhat embarassing way....

So much for Boris's faith in institutions sorting out their own affairs....

Aphra Behn