Feeling safe from harassment; setting the standard.

Comprehensive guidance and solutions to help you protect employees from sexual harassment, and your organisation from risk; creating a genuine speak up culture. 

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What is the new positive duty?

The UK’s Worker Protection Act will come into force this October; mandating employers proactively to take reasonable steps to prevent employees from experiencing sexual harassment.

Since #MeToo in 2018, heightened attention on sexual harassment and workplace behaviour has exposed the inadequacy of existing systems in deterring or preventing sexual harassment. In response, the Worker Protection Act will come into force in the UK in October.

The idea underpinning it is very much that prevention is better than the cure; we’re moving away from the old failed system of waiting for sexual harassment to happen and taking action when it does. Instead, organisations need to proactively take steps aimed at preventing it from happening in the first place.

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When do organisations need to act?

Now’s the time to prepare ahead of the October 2024 enforcement date. This is about much more than doing some training.

To meet the positive duty, you’ll need to address several facets of your business: aligning your leadership, reviewing your policies and processes (around reporting, monitoring, investigating and deciding upon issues) and taking steps to enable a culture where everybody understands more about what sexual harassment is and feels safer to raise and talk about what’s happening.

The legislation doesn’t provide a single checklist to tick off. This is about proportionality: taking reasonable steps for an organisation in your position.

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How can byrne·dean help?

This is about much more than risk and compliance. It’s about behaviour and culture change. Our goal is to enable your people to take decisions that shift the organisation to a better place; culturally and in terms of people risk.

  • We’re work behaviour experts with a coalface background of employment law: you’ll typically be working with a subject matter expert who’s worked as a senior employment lawyer too.
  • We offer an end-to-end framework to help you navigate the requirements of the new positive duty – that can scale and adapt to meet the realities of your workplace in a practical and proportionate way.
  • We are equipped to assist organisations at any level of readiness, whether they require comprehensive support across all business facets or targeted assistance in specific areas. 

Worker Protection Act: how should HR prepare for sexual harassment obligations?

In light of the new duty to prevent sexual harassment, HR teams may be wondering, in a practical sense, what actions to take to support the intentions of the Worker Protection Act.


Creating safe workplaces: new duties on employers to prevent sexual harassment

Two prominent byrne·dean experts join the Co-Founder of InChorus, a tech platform to report and measure workplace harassment, to discuss the new legal and regulatory responsibilities for all employers on preventing sexual harassment at work.

Our solutions

Leadership/Board alignment

To really make a change, your leaders must embody, to themselves and others, that this is not just about compliance with a legal duty. They need crystal clear certainty at the most senior level why you’re addressing this and they need to be able to talk about their personal commitment – to invest their own personal capital.

Our leadership/board alignment session (60-90 minute duration) quickly establishes shared clarity on the risks, responsibilities and benefits. We can also work one-to-one with people leading the initiative.

Prevention-ready assessment

We have developed a very clear diagnostic that provides you with an initial snapshot analysis to assess how prevention attuned your organisation is, and reveals what the principal areas of action will be for you.

Our approach is both risk-based and data-driven; we will suggest reasonable and proportionate measures, bearing in mind particularly your resources and the intelligence that we gather.

The assessment focuses on:

1. Your strong, informed base: whether you’re assessing the risks robustly, using data to inform your approach, reviewing policies and processes and doing ongoing work on gender balance.

2. An aligned and accountable senior team: that properly understands the issues, regularly communicates with others and with one person alone accountable for progress.

3. Knowledge drives kinder behaviour: how are you driving that knowledge, monitoring progress and rewarding the right behaviours?

4. Saying more (and listening to what’s said): make reporting safer and easier, ensure that everyone is talking more about reporting it, responding to it and accepting where they have transgressed.

Employee listening

For interventions to be effective, leaders need to know what is actually happening in their organisation. Many leaders believe they know this, but the reality is they don't. In our experience, sexual harassment cases don't happen in a vacuum. The warning signs may not be obvious, but certain factors and workplace settings correlate with a higher incidence of sexual harassment (even if it goes unreported). We can undertake effective listening exercises to elicit tangible issues (past and present) and understand what your employees need for the workplace to feel safe and respectful.

Alongside our prevention ready assessment, listening can inform your recommended solutions. We can discuss with you whether this listening is conducted in the form of non-attributable interviews with your people or using survey technology, perhaps carried out by our technical partner InChorus.

Active implementation

We’ve spent two decades supporting employers with their cultures, training, and, when complaints happen, investigations. We help you implement the required change and address areas of concern within your organisation. We draw on the expertise of our exceptional team for implementation across specialisms.

Solutions for you may include elements of the following:

  • Speak-up skills and data capture technology 
  • Ongoing data monitoring processes
  • Handling trauma informed reports
  • Leadership training Respect/appropriate workplace behaviour training 
  • Adjusting grievance mechanisms 
  • Redesigning disciplinary processes
  • Redesigning policies
  • On-demand microlearning resources & eLearning resources 

On-going listening and enabling speak-up

The new duty requires a new approach that is designed to prevent inappropriate behaviour - from microaggression through to gross misconduct - before it ever gets to a grievance or tribunal. Understanding the lived experience of different groups, be that demographically, by function, location or seniority will allow your organisation to take targeted measures to address concerns.

Our partner InChorus provide speak up technology that empowers employees to report sexual harassment through their multi-channel speak-up platform.

Worker Protection Act specialist advisory team

Our exceptional team includes experienced former employment lawyers, HR and L&D professionals, EDI experts, organisational development experts and researchers with deep coal-face experience of employment problems.

Profile photo of Matt Dean
Matt Dean
Co-Founder & interim Chief Executive

30+ year career looking at employment problems; initially as a City lawyer, from 2003 at Byrne Dean; Matt has always been convinced there's a better way to approach workplace disputes; an inspirational facilitator unafraid to ask the toughest questions.

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Samantha Mangwana
Strategy Lead

20+ year legal career, specialising in workplace disputes, with a particular focus on discrimination, whistleblowing and dismissal cases, as well as regular media commentator on employment issues.

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Rachael Forsberg
Principal Consultant

20+ years career in human resources, health and safety and mental health; focusing on people development, risk, raising awareness and reducing stigma.

If you need help enabling a culture where everybody feels safer to raise and talk about sexual harassment – get in touch.

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