More reports on unacceptable behavior, especially on managers

There have been more reports on unacceptable behavior in the past year, than ever before, especially on managers. Recently, confidential advisers have received many reports on unacceptable behavior. Two thirds of those complaints came from employees, and slightly less than half of the cases concerned managers. That is massive if you think of what managers stand for, namely responsibility, and leading by example. The conclusions are on the back of a poll by the National Association of Confidential Advisers (LVV) in the Netherlands. Whether the poll is representative enough or not, we cannot conclude that the underlying sentiment is false indeed.

Redefining what is right

Out of the 173 members who cooperated, 89 percent indicated that there has been more awareness in the workplace in the past year. Most confidential advisers indicated that there has been more discussion about inappropriate behavior and that people are more likely to be held accountable for unacceptable behavior. Some confidential counselors also indicated that there is less kissing and hugging, for example during birthdays, Christmas, and New Year’s drinks. Besides, they said that people no longer dare to make bad jokes. The confidential advisers underlined that we are all in the midst of redefining what is right and what is not.

Many respondents of this poll indicated that companies have more attention for unacceptable behavior, and have worked on more awareness in their ecosystem, for example through appointing permanent and sometimes external confidential advisers. Emails have been sent, and conversations have been held on the subject.

More than half of the confidential counselors interviewed (58 percent) indicated that the number of reports of unacceptable behavior has increased, sometimes even doubled. Almost three-quarters of the reports led to a complaint, report or other action. Most complaints (69 percent) came from employees, and were mainly about managers (44 percent). Slightly more than half of the reported incidents involved harassment (56 percent), and 11 percent involved sexual harassment.

Unacceptable behavior and unsafe environments have been the norm

I fully agree with Gerda Arends of the LVV, who underlined that discussing this theme in the public debate in the past year has been a major win in the Netherlands. Unacceptable behavior should become an industrial accident, occurring as little as possible, and should of course not be the norm. The number of members of the LVV increased in the past year from 2000 to 2500. The LVV has also noticed an increase in trainings for twice as many confidential advisers. In addition, the LVV has been working on a law for several years now, to make confidential advisers within organizations compulsory.

Meanwhile, the Center for Safe Sports Netherlands received more than 1400 reports of unacceptable behavior in 2022. That is considerably more than in previous years, when the number of reports fluctuated around 800. In 2021, it was about 873. The reported unacceptable behavior was emotionally, physically, or sexually. About 20 percent of the reporters eventually want to take matters to the authorities. The majority concerned the amateur sports world. Of course, there are more developments in all sorts of sectors. Read also my story on the world of journalism, media, and publishing. We have a long way to go, as unacceptable behavior and unsafe environments have been the norm – for centuries…