In a bid to create a culture of workplace respect, broking group Willis Towers Watson has launched a new scheme that offers support to staff.
The Respect at Work programme centres on the appointment of a network of selected Respect at Work guardians, made up of experienced professionals from within the company. The firm said the individuals have been hand-picked for their suitability to provide support and guidance to colleagues, based on their experience and skills.
Nicolas Aubert, (pic) Head of Great Britain, Willis Towers Watson, said: “We are taking these very important steps to promote and embed respect in every part of our business and every aspect of our work. In the UK we have worked hard to make sure that our working culture is inclusive throughout the business. This has been recognised by the Stonewall Index, listing the 500 most inclusive places to work in the UK, where Willis Towers Watson has risen 89 places and into the Top 150 this year.”
Guardians will receive specialist external training, enabling them to offer informal support and guidance for colleagues who want to share and discuss any workplace concerns they have, outside of their formal reporting line.
Specifically the guardians will provide:
- An additional support route for colleagues who witness or experience unlawful harassment, discrimination or inappropriate conduct
- A friendly face who is there to listen, talk and engage on any respect at work matter. They are an impartial listening ear for individuals who need support and guidance in a confidential and safe environment.
- The opportunity to discuss options to empower colleagues to tackle the matter themselves, or avenues for additional support
Mr Aubert, added: “Respect at work is important for all businesses, particularly in the professional and financial services sectors. We must demonstrate leadership in driving improvements in culture, ensure the quality of conduct and behaviour within our organisations, and provide clarity of purpose to drive value for clients. If we are to retain and attract the kind of talent we need, then it is vital that people know that they can work and thrive in a culture of inclusiveness and respect.
“Our new guardians will serve as an additional support route for colleagues who witness or experience unlawful harassment, discrimination or inappropriate conduct. We would always encourage colleagues to report these matters formally, via the whistleblowing channels available, however we also understand that formal procedures can be a barrier and sometimes people need someone to talk to informally first. Colleagues can still choose to speak up using all reporting channels available to them, or indeed handle the situation themselves; this network does not replace those options.
“Our guardians will be spread throughout our business lines and geographical locations in the UK. They will be experienced professionals who are approachable and confident in handling sensitive issues. This programme is one of the first of its kind in the professional and financial services industries and the aim is simply for people to feel comfortable talking about any workplace concerns they have in a confidential, informal and supportive environment.”
In addition, Willis Towers Watson has also launched a guide to help support and encourage managers to have open discussions about the culture in their team and how a respectful working environment positively impacts the business.
Willis Towers Watson will also be running a series of internal workshops titled ‘Let’s Talk About Respect’. Initially for leaders, these workshops will help encourage people to talk openly about how to build a respectful workplace.
The Respect at Work programme builds on Willis Towers Watson’s wider global policies that articulate the company values, includes mandatory training for all colleagues on workplace behaviours and provides a whistleblowing hotline for reporting any offences.