Diversity and Inclusion Week: Banter, harassment and inappropriate behaviour

We all have the right to work in an environment free from harassment and bullying, and to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Harassment and bullying cannot be tolerated as they undermine confidence, can affect mental and physical health, erodes morale and can damage team cohesion, productivity and effectiveness.

A fine line can exist between a light-hearted atmosphere among a happy productive team and employees overstepping the mark and leaving the business open to claims. However, it is clear that any workplace culture or office banter must not offend or isolate members of staff and that any jokes, nicknames or conversations must not relate to any protected characteristic (age, disability, gender identity, pregnancy, race, religion / belief, sex, sexual orientation). The Assembly has a Dignity at Work policy that has a zero tolerance approach to such behaviour.

What’s the difference between banter and harassment?

Banter could be defined as good natured teasing, joking or repartee that doesn’t offend anyone. Harassment is unwanted, distressful and hurtful words or behaviour. It is unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating an employee’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It is important to remember that harassment includes conduct that may not be intentional but nevertheless has the effect of harassing an individual. The fact that an individual did not intend to cause offence or hurt is not an acceptable excuse.

Common sense, context, good taste and individuals’ relationships with each other will normally dictate which remarks are, and which are not, enjoyable and acceptable.

Sometimes good friends and colleagues can build up relationships which involve constant mickey-taking of each other. But don’t let this style of humour become your default. It’s often a natural instinct for someone to laugh along and pretend they’re not bothered, when really they are.

Whilst often the harshest of banter may occur between the closest of friends, always stop to consider whether it may cause offence to someone else who may have joined the conversation at a later stage, or someone who may be within earshot.

Often teams of employees have been together for a long period of time and have developed a culture of good-natured ribbing or humorous insults. If any of these comments is objectionable in tone and aimed toward a protected class, you may have an illegal situation forming in your workplace.

Are you displaying inappropriate behaviour?

Is it possible that you are unaware of the effect your behaviour has on others? The following are examples of phrases that should not be used to excuse, or hide, behaviour that, in reality, constitutes bullying:

  • ‘Strong or robust management style’.
  • ‘A personality clash’.
  • Describing someone as ‘oversensitive’ or ‘unable to take a joke’.
  • A manager who does ‘not suffer fools gladly’.
  • A ‘hard task-master’.

Consider the position of the other person: are they more junior than you? Have they recently joined the team? Are they in a minority in the team, e.g. a women working in a predominately male environment? All these things may make them feel more sensitive to comments, and less able to complain about it.

Think about the rest of your team. Any comment you make doesn’t exist in isolation, it also contributes to an environment where that type of humour is accepted. You may only make one joke, but if you are the tenth person to make a similar of joke that day, the recipient’s sense of humour will wear thin pretty quickly. If one person always seems to be the butt of office jokes, don’t wait for HR to tell you to cut it out.

Be especially cautious of email. It’s all too easy to forward a “hilarious” joke or video to several recipients at once, but if some of them find it offensive then it’s not much of an excuse to say that you were just passing it on. We have special rules about use of IT systems, plus there will be a paper trail showing exactly what you sent. If you wouldn’t be happy to copy in the head of HR and the head of IT, then don’t click send.

Here’s a good rule of thumb – imagine your comment being read out in a barrister’s withering tones in front of a scowling judge. Stripped of its context in the jokey back-and-forth between workmates, anything close to the knuckle is going to sound that much worse.

If your boss takes disciplinary action against you for comments you’ve made; it’s usually best to apologise, promise to be more sensitive in future. This puts the ball back in their court and will usually stand you in better stead that insisting that you haven’t done anything wrong because it was all “just a joke” – remember, this is no defence!

What can you do if you witness or experience inappropriate behaviour?

The Assembly Commission’s Dignity at Work policy has the following principles in place:

  • Employees should be encouraged to raise their concerns with management either informally or through a formal grievance.
  • Employees should be left under no illusions that any banter or conduct which is deemed to be unacceptable will result in disciplinary action.
  • Managers must not stand by and tolerate clearly offensive conduct but take steps to prevent it. Managers who overhear or witness any potentially offensive conduct must take steps to address it or ensure it is not repeated
  • Inform your entire team of the difference between workplace banter and actual verbal harassment. Don’t accept excuses like, “It’s just a joke” or “We’ve always talked this way.” Demand a zero-tolerance culture in your workplace, and inform every person on your team of this policy.
  • Challenge inappropriate and unacceptable language and behaviour. TO not challenge, could be seen as condoning the behaviour.
  • Investigate any accusations of harassment immediately to make sure of all the details. If you find an employee that has been harassing others, take appropriate steps to rectify the situation immediately.

Sources:

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-verbal-harassment-workplace-banter-35576.html

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/legal-guide-workplace-banter-crosses-7659431

http://www.cityjobs.com/cityblog/2013/04/17/avoid-office-banter-harassment-workplace/

Diversity and Inclusion Week: The Assembly Commission’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

The Assembly Commission’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy sets out our diversity and inclusion objectives for 2017-21 and the steps we need to take to deliver against these objectives. The strategy will also help us plan how we comply with the duties placed on the Assembly Commission by the Government of Wales Act 2006 and also by the Equality Act 2010, covering each of the protected characteristics and other issues such as caring responsibilities, social mobility and other inequalities.

28447432903_d9001b7ecd_o

It is important to us that the Assembly continues to be accessible to the people of Wales and beyond: making it relevant, easy and meaningful for people to interact with it and contribute to its work. It is also important to us that we behave as an inclusive employer, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential.

We are finalising our action plan which details what activities we need to pursue to meet these objectives and how we will monitor our progress and success in meeting them.

We will ensure that our staff understand the part they play in helping our organisation deliver on our diversity and inclusion objectives and realise our diversity and inclusion vision and values.  Each year, we publish and Annual Diversity and Inclusion Report which provides an update on progress made in meeting our objectives.

We have identified five diversity and inclusion objectives and here we set out a summary of planned activities:

Objective One: Fostering Inclusive Leadership and an Inclusive Workplace Culture

We will ensure senior accountability, inclusive leadership, and continue to support and develop our Workplace Equality Networks (WENs).

Objective Two: Building on our Approach to Organisational Development

We will look for opportunities to identify and raise awareness of potential barriers to inclusion through collaboration with our workplace equality networks, the ongoing use of equality impact assessments and other appropriate awareness-raising activities such as our annual Diversity and Inclusion Week.

We will continue to benchmark our diversity and inclusion work with other organisations through peer review and other external recognition activities.

We will ensure that staff receive current, relevant diversity and inclusion training and information throughout their employment to support them to help us realise our diversity and inclusion vision and values.

Our workplace policies will continue to be inclusive in the way that they are drafted and reviewed, including being subject to equality impact assessment, which includes input from our workplace equality networks.

IMG_7808

Objective Three: Supporting Assembly Members and their Staff to build Diversity into their work

We will support Assembly Members and their staff to build diversity and inclusion into their roles as employers, as service providers and into their work as caseworkers, scrutineers and legislators.

We will continue to feed diversity and inclusion considerations into the work of the independent Remuneration Board of the National Assembly for Wales.

We will also work with the Business Committee and the Committee Chairs’ Forum, to explore how to strengthen the ways that diversity and inclusion are taken into account in Assembly business procedures and practices and when legislating to exercise any new devolved powers to the Assembly.

We want to broaden the reach of the Assembly to individuals and communities who are not currently engaged with its work or with the work of Assembly Members. We want to make information about the Assembly and its work to be increasingly easy to access and meaningful to the people of Wales.

We will also regularly review policies and arrangements for visitors to the Assembly to ensure that they are inclusive and promote access to all.

Objective Four: Supporting Assembly Commission Staff to build Diversity and Inclusion into their work

In order to ensure that inclusion is at the heart of decision-making across service areas, we will ensure that equality impact assessments are conducted whenever we change or initiate something new.

Service planning will take account of how service areas will deliver, where appropriate, on the objectives set out in this strategy. This approach will ensure that diversity and inclusion considerations are at the core of our day-to-day work.

We will take into account diversity and inclusion when buying-in goods and services.

8550944973_9a441ae52d_o

Objective Five: Behaving as an Inclusive Employer which attracts and retains the widest pool of talent where all staff have the opportunity to realise their full potential

We recognise that every member of our talented workforce, irrespective of their background, deserves to realise their full potential and progress in their careers.

We continue to address imbalances in representation of BME colleagues and disabled colleagues particularly at senior management level. We will support our existing staff and adjust where necessary, our recruitment attraction arrangements, exploring employment outreach activities and whether exploring and using positive action initiatives would be beneficial.

We will also maintain an ongoing review of our overall recruitment and selection processes to identify and remove any barriers to inclusion.

We collect and use workforce, recruitment and pay diversity data to identify and address any inequalities.

For any further information about our strategy, contact diversity@assembly.wales

Diversity and Inclusion Week: Message from the Chief Executive and Clerk

photo of manon Antoniazzi, the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly

The senior team and I are wholly committed to ensuring that as an employer and parliamentary organisation, we are an exemplar in our promotion of diversity, inclusion, equality and provision of accessible services. In order to deliver this, we have developed our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and accompanying action plan which will help us deliver our diversity and inclusion vision and values:

Vision

We want to continue to be an exemplar organisation in valuing diversity, promoting inclusion and embedding equality, both as an employer and parliamentary organisation. Our organisation is accessible and engages with and respects the people of Wales and beyond.

Values

From our corporate values which define the way we work, we have identified our Diversity and Inclusion values and we:

  • ensure diversity, inclusion and equality are embedded throughout our organisation and informs our approach to how we deliver services, recruit and manage staff, support Assembly Members and engage with the people of Wales;
  • challenge and strive to eliminate harassment and discrimination;
  • recognise and address barriers to inclusion, access and participation;
  • behave as an inclusive employer and accessible parliamentary organisation;
  • aim for our workforce to be representative of our diverse society, including at a senior level;
  • encourage and widen participation in Assembly activities and engagement with the Assembly from people across Wales; and
  • promote positive attitudes towards diversity and inclusion and foster good relations between different groups of people.

The Strategy sets out how our staff deliver and promote inclusive, accessible services and achieve positive outcomes for people. It will also help us plan how we comply with the duties placed on the Assembly Commission by the Government of Wales Act 2006 and also by the Equality Act 2010, covering each of the protected characteristics[1] and other issues such as caring responsibilities, social mobility and other inequalities.

As an employer and service provider, our organisation is committed to ensuring that no-one is disadvantaged or discriminated against on these grounds: discriminatory behaviour will be dealt with via our disciplinary procedures. Also, as an employer, we encourage flexible working practices whilst accommodating our business needs.

In line with the Assembly Commission’s strategic goals, it is important to us that the Assembly continues to be accessible to the people of Wales and beyond: making it relevant, easy and meaningful for people to interact with it and contribute to its work. It is also important to us that we behave as an inclusive employer, attracting and retaining talent, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential.

I will ensure that our staff understand the part they play in helping our organisation deliver on our diversity and inclusion objectives and realise our diversity and inclusion vision and values.

We aim to achieve the best possible equalities outcomes for both our workforce and everyone who interacts with the National Assembly for Wales. I hope you will do all you can to work in a way that continues to achieve real, measurable diversity and inclusion improvements of which we can be proud.

Manon Antoniazzi

Chief Executive and Clerk

[1] Protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation

A Dialogue With Our Democracy

Twenty years ago this September, the people of Wales voted in favour of having their own National Assembly.

It’s the only political institution the people of Wales have ever voted to have. Today we have published our report on how the National Assembly can deepen its relationship with the people of Wales through digital communications and social media.

digital-social-media-taskforce-at-the-national-assembly-for-wales

Our focus has been on the Welsh citizen – the potential user of the Assembly platform and services.

Our starting point is that all Assembly communications should be designed with a citizen/user interest at their heart, with a presumption of Open Data, seeking to build long-term relationships with the citizens of Wales.

In our report we set out how the National Assembly can use modern digital communication and social media channels to identify what people are thinking and concerned about, to collect evidence, information and opinion, and to engage in real-time with people in local communities and communities of interest.

The same media can then allow the Assembly to share with citizens directly how their elected representatives, individually and collectively, are seeking to respond to those issues.

Our proposals in some areas are radical.

We want the Assembly, its Members and staff, to understand that they are content creators: the Assembly is a content platform which captures facts, information, data, commentary, opinion, and analysis, both written and audiovisual, that leads – or sometimes consciously doesn’t lead – to action.

digital-hack-day-in-the-senedd-cardiff-bay

Pic: Senedd Lab (Hack Day), exploring how digital innovation could improve the way the Assembly engages with the public.

Properly organised, this is a profound, valuable and democratic digital space which reflects the nation’s conversations about the issues which are of most concern to it. It should be innovative, creative, and inspirational.

Our group contained people with a diverse range of relevant skills, including the media, education, digital content and social media developments, which has enabled us to make practical proposals for improving the Assembly’s operations.

Our recommendations are diverse.

They include these suggestions:

  1. The Assembly should lead the way and establish an integrated content service using social media and other channels (such as dedicated email newsletters) to engage directly with the people of Wales.
  2. The Assembly should put people – rather than the institution and its processes – at the heart of topical news stories and aim for an emotional connection.
  3. The Assembly should create content that helps people understand the connections, differences and working relationships between the Assembly and other key organisations in Welsh public life to address the democratic information deficit.
  4. Senedd TV must be more user-friendly, with a simple tool allowing anyone to quickly find and clip footage which can be included in video packages or embedded on Member pages, external websites and social media platforms.
  5. Smart social media analytics should be adopted to identify online conversations and communities, and allow the Assembly to become involved in these discussions.
  6. The Assembly must exploit every alternative to the press release as a means of promoting its work. Maps, infographics, blogs and neat summaries all have the potential to articulate difficult messaging in a memorable way.
  7. A dedicated, easy to use National Assembly for Wales area should be established on the Hwb resource repository with resources for teaching that are mapped to the needs of the new curriculum currently being developed.
  8. The Assembly should establish strong contacts with Welsh Higher and Further Education Institutions to facilitate easier engagement with the Senedd and explore the potential of developing a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) about its work.
  9. Social media platforms best suited to engage with young people and learners should be adopted, in line with current trends. The Assembly should embrace the potential for digital engagement utilising other platforms such as Skype, Facetime, Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality.
  10. Further thought should be given to the visitor experience at the Senedd and the Pierhead, including the use of projection, video walls, Virtual and Augmented Reality on the estate, inside and outside the Senedd and Pierhead.

We also recommend that the 20th anniversary of the Assembly opening in 2019 is at the heart of a campaign to promote the stories of devolution, and recommend to the Llywydd that she consider organising A Festival of Welsh Democracy to coincide with that anniversary.

person-using-an-iphone-with-social-media

In voting for a National Assembly twenty years ago, the people of Wales created a new democratic institution operating, it is fair to say, in a fragmented public sphere.

Though the National Assembly was born at the time of digital developments in our media, in practice we built a new Welsh public polity in the absence of a coherent Welsh public sphere. It was not our job as a group to consider the Welsh media and its structural challenges – committees of the Assembly have been looking at those themselves.

Our task was to help the National Assembly establish how best to build a deep, genuine and continuous dialogue with the people of Wales.

This is our report. Let the debates begin!

download-digital-taskforce-report

The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister set to meet in Bangor

The Assembly Committee responsible for scrutinising the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, will meet to examine the Welsh Government’s approach to economic development.

First Minister Carwyn Jones AM will be appearing before the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister from 10.00 until 12.00 on Friday, 14 July in the Management Centre at Bangor University.

FM Graphic EN

For this meeting the Committee will be focusing on the Welsh Government’s approach to developing the economy in Wales.

The Committee will also discuss other topical issues with the First Minister and would welcome suggestions of issues of major importance in North Wales to raise. If you would like something to be discussed, you can suggest a topic in advance.

The economy in Wales – an overview

Ahead of the development of a new Economic Strategy for Wales later in the year, the Committee will be raising issues of key importance with the First Minister. The strategy is being developed at a point when the Welsh economy faces a number of challenges, some of which are shared with the rest of the UK and some of which are unique to Wales:

  • Wales has the lowest Gross Value Added (GVA – a measure of economic output) per person.  Wales has a lower Gross Value Added (GVA) per person when compared with the other devolved nations and regions of England.
  • Many communities still struggle with the effects of deindustrialisation, and poverty and inequality are persistent challenges.
  • The short and longer-term impacts of Brexit on the economy remain highly uncertain.

Welsh economy: in numbers

The Welsh Government has developed and published a range of high-level indicators to monitor the overall performance of the Welsh economy. The rationale behind this is to reflect the outcomes most important to the people of Wales, and to give a more comprehensive picture than a single indicator can provide.

8 Key Economic indicators

The Welsh Government has made ‘prosperity for all’ a key priority in its Programme for Government 2016-2021. Two sections of this programme contain priorities which are critical to the success of the Welsh economy:

  • Prosperous and secure – including commitments relating to business and enterprise, inward investment, employment, and the rural economy.
  • United and connected – which includes measures to establish a National Infrastructure Commission, improve roads and public transport, improve digital connectivity, and promote a ‘fair’ society.

Continue reading “The Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister set to meet in Bangor”

What’s in your medicine cabinet? The Public Accounts Committee inquiry into Medicines Management

Do you have concerns about the number of items on your repeat prescription?

Blog Header EN

Have you experienced difficulties in getting the right medicine from a pharmacist? Have you had any problems while in hospital with incomplete drug charts meaning you got the wrong medicine?

These are some of the issues the Public Accounts Committee have been considering as part of their inquiry into Medicines Management.

With over £800 million spent on medicines and over 79.5 million medicines dispensed in Wales per year, NHS Wales uses medicine on a substantial scale. In the last 10 years there has been a 46% increase in the number of items dispensed, and in the face of this growing demand, Welsh Government is urging prudent prescribing, to optimise people’s medicines so that patients receive the best possible outcomes and so that the NHS gets value for money from medicines.

The Auditor General for Wales published a report on medicines management within primary and secondary care settings, on 15 December 2016. This looked at whether NHS Wales is managing medicines effectively, in primary care, in secondary care and at the interface between primary and secondary care. The report considered health bodies’ corporate arrangements for medicines management, such as strategic and workforce planning, the profile of medicines issues at Boards and committees, and arrangements for monitoring health bodies’ performance in relation to medicines.

The Auditor General concluded that:

  • There was scope to make prescribing safer and more cost effective within primary care;
  • There are medicine related safety risks and inefficiencies when people move in and out of hospital;
  • There are problems in hospitals with medicine storage, gaps in medicine information and frustration at delays in implementing electronic prescribing.

The Committee explored a number of these issues with the Welsh Government at our meeting in March 2017.

The Committee were concerned to find that it had taken so long to introduce electronic prescribing (this was first discussed in 2007, but is not likely to come in until 2023).

Another area the Committee felt could be improved was around developing a central system for very expensive medicines which are not run of the mill rather than each health board holding a store of the medicine.

Of particular concern to the Committee, was repeat prescriptions and whether all the medicines were being used or whether patients end up with stockpiles due to the difficulties of altering the prescription.  This is an issue as money is wasted every day through patients receiving medicines they do not really need and which may not be required. The Government explained to the Committee that this was a ‘tripartite thing’ with the patient, pharmacy and prescriber all having responsibility.

The Committee would be keen to hear your experiences around this, or any other part of medicine management –we would welcome hearing your experiences via twitter @SeneddPAC or by e-mail seneddpac@assembly.wales

Next steps:

The Committee will be taking evidence from Health Boards and Pharmacists to explore how well best practice is being shared and their response to some of the Committee’s concerns.

The full meeting held in March can be watched on Senedd TV and the transcript for the meeting along with all the written evidence received by the Committee to date can be access on the Public Accounts Committee page.  The June meeting will be available on Senedd TV.

A Visitor’s Guide to the Senedd

A Visitor’s Guide to the Senedd

Visiting Cardiff for the UEFA Champion’s League Final? You’ll find a warm welcome in the capital city of Wales. We are a country full of culture and heritage, and Cardiff is a fantastic place to soak up the atmosphere of this amazing sporting event.

If you find yourself in Cardiff Bay for the UEFA Champion’s League Festival, why not pay a visit to the Senedd and visit one of Wales’ most modern and most important buildings?  We’ve put together a handy guide to help you make the most of your visit.

For information in other languages:

Pour plus d’informations en français: link

Per informazioni in italiano: link

Para información en español: link

IMG_7855What is the Senedd?

The Senedd is the home of the National Assembly for Wales, and represents the heart of democracy in Wales. A modern parliamentary building which celebrated its tenth birthday last year, the Senedd is also one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings in Wales.

It is also a public building, welcoming visitors seven days a week, and boasts a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Most importantly it’s free to visit and offers some of the best views in Cardiff Bay, so please come inside and have a look around.

What’s inside?

The debating chamber

The Senedd houses the debating chamber of the National Assembly for Wales. Look down below the huge funnel and you’ll be able to see where our politicians sit during parliamentary debates. Take one of our free tours to discover more about the building and what happens here.

chamber-agle

Café and gift shop

The Senedd has also has a café (more on that below) and a shop, which stocks local produce, souvenirs and gifts. Pick up Welsh whisky, Melin Tregwynt textile products and Senedd branded souvenirs as mementos of your visit.

Exhibitions

Next to the café is an exhibition area which regularly hosts a variety of events, exhibitions and other activities throughout the year. Come along and see what’s happening!

Take a guided tour

The best way to get to know the Senedd is through a guided tour. Visitors will learn about the history and the unique architecture of the building and discover more about the work of the National Assembly for Wales.

The tours are FREE. All you need to do is turn up and we’ll let you know what time the next one starts.

Enjoy a taste of Wales

The Senedd’s café offers a selection of hot and cold drinks, or you could sample some traditional Welsh treats – enjoy a Welsh cake or a slice of bara brith (Welsh fruit cake) with a nice British pot of tea.

The views from the seating area are fantastic – watch boats sailing on the sparkling water of Cardiff Bay, or view the hustle and bustle of the Champions League festival from below the Senedd’s impressive canopy.

Facilities and access

As with any government building, all visitors are required to go through security on their way in to the Senedd. Our security team are trained to be aware of the needs of visitors with disabilities, or who might have specific requirements based on their religious beliefs.

The Senedd is fully accessible with ramp access at the front of the building and lifts to all floors inside. A hearing loop system is available to hearing aid users.

The building offers fully assisted changing facilities and gender-neutral washrooms which are suitable for all.

Take a selfie with our Snapchat GeoFilter

If you are on Snapchat – keep an eye out for our special filter and share your photos on social media!

National Assembly for Wales Trip Advisor webpage

Senedd Facebook page