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Respectful environment

Building an Environment of Respect, Diversity, Opportunity & Inclusion

In late September 2008, President Toope introduced the UBC Respectful Environment Statement for Students, Faculty and Staff. The Statement speaks to our freedoms and our responsibilities, and provides the guiding principles to support us in building an environment in which respect, civility, diversity, opportunity and inclusion are valued. The statement was revised in May, 2014.

Read the revised UBC Respectful Environment Statement (PDF).

Steps to resolve conflict

Step 1 – Direct response

Be proactive. Try to resolve the problem on your own. Do not wait until a recurrence or assume the problem will go away. Approach the person who made you feel uncomfortable, explain how it affected you and ask them to stop. Do this calmly, respectfully, and in confidence. Often, they may not be aware that their behaviour is offensive, and most will change the behaviour once they are aware of the problem. If another employee approaches you regarding an issue of respect, then careful listening, respectful discussion and honesty will often lead to a resolution.

Step  2 – Help from your unit

If you have attempted to resolve the problem without success or if you are not comfortable addressing the problem on your own, discuss the problem and possible solutions with your immediate supervisor. Confidentiality considerations should be discussed and agreed upon.

If for any reason you are unable to discuss the problem with your immediate supervisor, other avenues are available to help you resolve the problem. You may contact another appropriate level of management up to and including the Head of your unit.

Step 3 – Formal avenues

If you have attempted to resolve the problem, as outlined in Step 2, and it has failed to correct the situation, then assistance through Human Resources, Faculty Relations, the Equity Office or your union/ association may be necessary.

Adapted from Respectful Workplace Program, Newfoundland Labrador Public Service Commission

FAQs for staff and faculty

If I am being bullied by my supervisor, who do I turn to for assistance? Is there an impartial individual outside of my own department that I may contact?

Where there is concern about conflict of interest, faculty and staff should contact their employee association, union, or Human Resources.

If I experience or witness personal harassment, who should I report this to?

Faculty or staff who have concerns about personal harassment should contact their direct supervisor or Administrative Head of Unit.  Where the issue is not resolved or there is concern about conflict of interest, faculty and staff should contact their employee association, union, or Human Resources.

What constitutes “personal harassment”?

Personal harassment is objectionable and unwanted behaviour that is verbally or physically abusive, vexatious or hostile, that is without reasonable justification, and that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for working, learning or living. Personal harassment may be intentional or unintentional. While personal harassment usually consists of repeated acts, a single serious incident that has a lasting harmful effect may constitute personal harassment.

Personal harassment behaviour includes persistent demeaning or intimidating comments, gestures or conduct; threats to a person’s employment or educational status, person or property;  persistent comments or conduct, including ostracism or exclusion of a person, that undermines an individual’s self-esteem so as to compromise their ability to achieve work or study goals;  unwarranted and excessive supervision or criticism of an individual; abuse of power, authority or position; sabotage of a person’s work; hazing; spreading of malicious rumours or lies; or making malicious or vexatious complaints about a person.

What constitutes “bullying”?

Bullying or harassment are behaviours that prevent us from the kind of respectful and productive environment envisioned in the Respectful Environment Statement. Bullying or harassment are not acceptable and will not be tolerated at UBC. Visit the UBC Bullying & Harassment Prevention website to learn more about how to prevent bullying and harassment in the  workplace.

What are the University’s policies on discrimination and harassment?

Matters relating to discrimination or harassment based on age, ancestry, colour,  family status, marital status, physical or mental disability, place of origin, political belief, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and criminal conviction unrelated to employment are addressed in Policy SC7 – Discrimination (formerly Policy #3).

What is the role of the Equity Office?

To address concerns that may constitute complaints under Policy SC7 – Discrimination (formerly Policy #3).

FAQs for administrators

What kind of ongoing training and support can I provide to my staff around creating a respectful workplace?

There are a myriad of existing training options either directly or indirectly related to Respectful Environment. Among them are the Leadership and Management training programs and initiatives currently offered through Organization Development and Learning (ODL) or Teaching and Academic Growth (TAG). Training programs are also available through the Equity Office.

The Respectful Environment initiative has specific training for administrators and Department Heads, so please visit our site regularly for updates. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss your specific training and development needs, contact your HR Advisor.

If my department wanted to create its own departmental policies around creating a respectful environment, who can we consult with in HR or Equity for support or assistance?

Firstly, we recommend you review section E of the Statement to understand the existing policies and provisions that the Statement is intended to supplement. One point to note is that departmental policies regarding Respectful Environment can add to but not derogate from the principles of the Statement. If you decide to pursue your own departmental policy, there are many already in existence at UBC that may serve as a precedent for you. We encourage you to review your draft policy with your HR Advisor.

FAQs for students

Why was the Respectful Environment Statement created and what is its purpose?

The UBC Respectful Environment Statement is our commitment to a respectful environment for our Students, Faculty and Staff.   It was created in part to respond to personal harassment issues that arise in our working, learning and living environment that are not addressed under Policy SC7 – Discrimination (formerly Policy #3) and the Equity Office mandate.  The Statement’s purpose is firstly to encourage workplace practices that foster an environment in which respect, civility, diversity, opportunity and inclusion are valued, and, secondly, to articulate the expectation that everyone at UBC conduct themselves in a manner that upholds the Statement’s principles in all communications and interactions with fellow UBC community members and the public in all University-related activities.

How does the Statement protect the rights of students?

In the context of an academic community, freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry must be exercised responsibly, in ways that recognize and respect the dignity of others, having careful regard to the dynamics of different relationships within the environment, such as between professor and student, or supervisor and employee.  Personal harassment, which is sometimes referred to as psychological harassment or bullying, is harmful to a respectful environment and therefore has no place at UBC.

Students who have concerns about personal harassment related to a course or academic matter, should contact their professor, Department head or Dean’s Office.  If the concern is related to a UBC service unit or a residence, students should contact the Unit Head of the particular service or the Vice President, Students Office at UBC Vancouver, or the Unit Head or the Associate Vice President, Students at UBC Okanagan.

Where the issue is not resolved or there is concern about conflict of interest, students should contact the UBC Ombudsperson (UBC Vancouver) or the Associate Vice-President, Student or Student Union (UBC Okanagan).

If I experience or witness personal harassment, who should I report this to?

Students should contact their professor, Department head or Dean’s Office, if their concern relates to a course of academic matter. If the concern is related to a UBC service unit or a residence, students should contact the Unit Head of the particular service or the Vice President, Students Office at UBC Vancouver, or the Unit Head or the Associate Vice President, Students at UBC Okanagan.

Where the issue is not resolved or there is concern about conflict of interest, students should contact the UBC Ombudsperson (UBC Vancouver) or the Associate Vice-President, Student or Student Union (UBC Okanagan).

What constitutes “personal harassment”?

Personal harassment is objectionable and unwanted behaviour that is verbally or physically abusive, vexatious or hostile, that is without reasonable justification, and that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for working, learning or living. Personal harassment may be intentional or unintentional. While personal harassment usually consists of repeated acts, a single serious incident that has a lasting harmful effect may constitute personal harassment.

Personal harassment behaviour includes persistent demeaning or intimidating comments, gestures or conduct; threats to a person’s employment or educational status, person or property;  persistent comments or conduct, including ostracism or exclusion of a person, that undermines an individual’s self-esteem so as to compromise their ability to achieve work or study goals;  unwarranted and excessive supervision or criticism of an individual; abuse of power, authority or position; sabotage of a person’s work; hazing; spreading of malicious rumours or lies; or making malicious or vexatious complaints about a person.

What constitutes “bullying”?

Bullying or harassment are behaviours that prevent us from the kind of respectful and productive environment envisioned in the Respectful Environment Statement. Bullying or harassment are not acceptable and will not be tolerated at UBC. Visit the UBC Bullying & Harassment Prevention website to learn more about how to prevent bullying and harassment in the  workplace.

What are the University’s policies on discrimination and harassment?

Matters relating to discrimination or harassment based on age, ancestry, colour,  family status, marital status, physical or mental disability, place of origin, political belief, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and criminal conviction unrelated to employment are addressed in Policy SC7 – Discrimination (formerly Policy #3).

What is the role of the Equity Office?

To address concerns that may constitute complaints under Policy SC7 – Discrimination (formerly Policy #3).

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