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Workshops help promote respectful work environment

by Sherry Fisher - January 26, 2009


Efforts are underway to develop strategies to help promote civility and mutually respectful work environments at the University.

Two workshops on the topic have already been held.

The initiative grew out of conversations with employees from the clerical and maintenance unions, says Donna Munroe, associate vice president for human resources.

“We were talking about harassment, employment issues, and general inappropriate behavior,” she says. “We agreed that we needed to approach the issue from several different vantage points and institutionalize the effort.”

A group called The Something’s Happening Committee was formed, discussions ensued, and the first workshop was held last April for CEUI and AFSCME, the maintenance and clerical unions.

The event was also sponsored by the Women’s Center, the Department of Human Resources, the Office of Diversity and Equity, and the Office of Audit, Compliance, and Ethics. About 100 people attended.

Another workshop was recently presented for non-supervisory employees in UCPEA – the professional employees’ union – that focused on civility in the workplace. The next workshop, for UCPEA supervisors, is set for Feb. 17.

The events offer employees information about workplace civility, including how to define illegal conduct that constitutes uncivil behavior – such as sexual harassment, and other behaviors that aren’t illegal but are inappropriate and might violate standards of conduct and University policies, says Munroe.

“We realized that employees needed more information about where they could go for help if they encountered uncivil behavior and what could be done about it. We want our work environment to be a positive and enjoyable place.”

Bullying behavior is a form of uncivil behavior, she says.

“That can manifest itself in subtle exclusions, insults, or stares. One event doesn’t make a hostile work environment, but repeated behaviors of that nature are a form of workplace violence.”

Munroe says civility issues aren’t specific to one segment of the workforce: some faculty have also expressed concern. A poster campaign is underway that promotes a supportive, respectful, diverse, and ethical workplace.

“President Hogan has been very supportive of this initiative,” Munroe says, noting that in addition to providing support for the poster campaign, he prepared a letter that is distributed to all attendees at employee orientation about his values and interest in supporting a respectful, civil work environment at the University.

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