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Respectful workplace cultures

One in three Australian workers have experienced sexual harassment at work in the last five years, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission. 37% of people thought their organisation should be doing more to prevent and address sexual harassment. Organisations need to take proactive action to provide workplaces that are safe, respectful, and free of systemic issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination, racism and bullying.

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Workplace culture and Respect@Work. Your role in building high-performing organisations of the future

Workplace culture, particularly equality, inclusion, and diversity, are becoming important areas of people's focus in organisations. We will cover the Respect@Work guidelines, role of leadership and steps workplaces should take.

SUBSTANTIVE LAW, 1 CPD point

Recorded: 2 March 2023

Creating a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace

Recent reforms to workplace laws in Australia have qualitatively changed the focus to preventing sexual harassment and hostile workplace behaviours. The onus is on organisations to provide physically and psychologically safe and respectful workplaces.

A safe, inclusive and respectful culture doesn't happen by accident.

It takes leadership and commitment to create a workplace culture where people feel safe, respected, valued and heard. Everyone benefits – employees thrive, are highly engaged and perform at their best, and organisations prosper, attract good people and have strong reputations.

Creating and sustaining your desired workplace culture begins by understanding what is going on in your organisation and then taking action aligned to that understanding and monitoring its impact over time.

The Critical Pillars that underpin a culture that prevents and addresses workplace sexual harassment are:

  • leadership and good governance;
  • applying a safety lens;
  • responding to harmful behaviours with person-centred processes and systems; and
  • building psychological safety and trust in reporting through greater transparency and accountability when harm occurs.

How we can help

Our team offers deep experience in workplace culture and safety, employee relations, investigations and legal compliance. Our work with the Champions of Change Coalition and our advocacy for cultures, systems and laws that prevent harmful behaviours so everyone in an organisation can thrive, informs our approach to supporting our clients.

We work with boards, executive leadership, people and culture leads, and business integrity and safety teams. Together with AskYourTeam, we offer practical steps and strategic guidance, informed by good data, to support a positive workplace culture. We provide the tools to measure and monitor progress over time.

Five steps to create a safe respectful workplace

What action should organisations be taking to prevent harm in their workplaces?

Read more

Case studies

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Global insurer

We conducted an investigation into serious allegations around a complaint a senior executive breached the publicly listed company’s Code of Conduct. Parties were interviewed, documents reviewed, and the Board was briefed on findings. Advice was provided on the outcome and related matters, including reporting obligations.

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Australian Human Rights Commission

We provided two secondees to the AHRC to assist in the implementation of Respect@Work reforms, including drafting the guidelines for complying with the new positive duty under the Sex Discrimination Act to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate relevant unlawful conduct.

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Respect@Work Council

We advised the Respect@Work Council on its development of best practice guidance on confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements involving sexual harassment allegations.

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https://www.minterellison.com/employment-and-safety/respectful-workplace-cultures