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Dignity at work
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Description: SkillsHub
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Posted by IPG
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Introducing an important new resource on the IPG Skills Hub
‘Industry staffers slam delay to promised harassment code of conduct.’ So railed the Bookseller recently, reporting on publishing’s frustration at the apparent lack of progress on a code of conduct aimed at combating sexual harassment in the industry.
They have a point. The Bookseller’s 2017 survey shared the shocking news that 54% of women and 34% of male respondents had experienced sexual harassment at work. Since then, of course, high profile sexual harassment cases in all types of businesses and from around the world have hardly been off the front pages. The evidence is clear: #MeToo has shone a light on behaviour that has blighted workplaces and working relationships for far too long.
While sexual harassment is quite rightly hitting the headlines, the challenge to us all to provide safe, inclusive and non-intimidating work environments is a much wider issue, as shown by the admirable draft Code of Conduct issued by the American Booksellers Association (ABA) earlier this year.
Producing codes like this isn’t easy. Publishers know only too well how important words and tone are, and never more so than when dealing with an issue as tricky and emotive as sexual harassment. There is also much complexity and confusion around the issues covered by the umbrella phrase ‘dignity at work’ and by the perfect storm of #MeToo-type allegations, gender pay gap embarrassments and other diversity issues in publishing. In fact, the Bookseller article quotes an industry insider’s concerns that this conflation of issues might have got in the way of progress on a code for publishing.
What is needed now is clarity around what we mean by all these overlapping terms and concepts such as (sexual) harassment, bullying, intimidation and dignity at work. When we understand what we mean by these things, we can start to address them better, whether through aspirational codes of conduct or statements of intent, clear, well- communicated policies and procedures for staff, consistent implementation (whoever is involved) and the culture change we need within organisations to really make a difference.
That’s why the IPG is launching a new Skills Hub resource to support members seeking to develop and refine their thinking about dignity at work and what it means for the people for whom we are responsible. Written by experienced IPG member Clare Grist Taylor, it offers practical tools and a reminder of the dignity at work landscape and how employers and employees can work in partnership to tackle work-related bullying and harassment.
We know a short online course won’t change the world, but it makes a contribution to conversations that every owner, leader, manager and member of staff must have. It’s up to all of us to make publishing the industry that sets the standards for dignity at work—starting here.
Access the Dignity at Work resource on the IPG Skills Hub here.

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