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This week (14 -18 November) is anti-bullying week. We would like to take this opportunity to stress how committed the Department is to creating a happy and healthy working environment – one where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, regardless of status, gender, background or sexuality.

We were saddened to learn from the latest staff survey that 10% of people in the Department say they have experienced bullying and/or harassment, while 16% say they have witnessed it. These seem to be higher proportions than have been reported in other clinical departments in Oxford. This behaviour is unacceptable and we want to assure everyone that we take all such allegations very seriously. 

We can only take action with your agreement and when we know what is happening. The figures from the staff survey far exceed the number of complaints we have received. We want to create a culture where people who are experiencing or witnessing bullying and harassment feel able to speak-up and we are putting in place a framework to facilitate this.

Our network of Harassment Advisors offer confidential support to all members of the Department who feel they have been subject to, or have witnessed, bullying or harassment. Seeking support at an early stage from one of our advisors is not the same as making a complaint: this is an informal opportunity to seek confidential advice. In some instances, this may be sufficient to resolve the matter; in other cases, should you decide to make a complaint, the harassment advisor is a valuable source of support and guidance. If you do not feel comfortable talking to someone from within the Department, you can also access the University’s anonymous Harassment Line. 

We often hear that people who are being bullied or harassed, or who witness such behaviour, feel that telling someone will not achieve anything. I want to reassure you that this is not the case and that, with your agreement, action will be taken. Our Head of Department, Prof Hugh Watkins, personally intervened in situations that have been escalated for his attention and have produced successful outcomes.

We are providing anti-bullying and harassment training to our Principal Investigators and Line Managers. This course is compulsory for those who have not attended a similar course previously. We hope to roll this training out to all staff in 2017.

In this anti-bullying week, please take the opportunity to look at the resources we have available in the Working at RDM section of the website. If you have any further questions, please get in touch with your local Personnel Team.