NEWS22 May 2018

IPA draws up best practice code on dignity

Media News People UK

UK – The IPA has published a code of best practice on dignity at work in a bid to tackle harassment and inappropriate workplace culture within agencies, and help its members understand "what is not acceptable".

Metoo sexual harassment_crop

The move to create a set of principles followed the #MeToo movement and the leak of a 'Top Five’ agency email earlier in the year, which ranked female employees by their looks and prompted discussion about sexual objectification and inappropriate behaviour in the industry.

It was agreed at its council meeting during Advertising Week Europe in March that the IPA would draw up a code for its members, aiming to "collectively put an end to any agency practice that seek to objectify men or women".

The code consists of:

1. A template ‘dignity at work’ policy that can be used as a basis for agencies to either review or prepare their own policies.

2. Guidelines on how to implement such policies, outlining the actions agencies could take to prevent or identify inappropriate behaviour, such as sexual ‘banter'. These guidelines include:

  • Background to the code and its cultural context
  • Legal foundations for the code including: a definition of bullying and harassment; who is protected; legal claims for bullying and harassment; employer liability
  • Practical steps and implications for agency employers

While many agencies already have a policy in place on harassment and bullying, Sarah Golding, IPA president and chief executive of The&Partnership, said: "I felt it was important that the IPA, through its council, provided additional guidance around what is appropriate behaviour in the workplace.

She said the code would help the IPA’s members understand "what is, and what is not acceptable".

Juliet Bawtree, associate director, legal and public affairs (employment), IPA, added: "The IPA hopes that [the code] will be a helpful tool for ongoing change for good in member agency working cultures. It is intended to form part of an agency’s wider diversity initiatives. Having a properly implemented and supported dignity at work policy will foster a more diverse and productive work culture."