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BBC to tackle workplace bullying culture

08 May 2013

The BBC will overhaul its bullying and harassment policy after a review found evidence of widespread bullying and an “undercurrent of fear” about speaking out.

The 'Respect At Work' Review was prepared with the help of Dinah Rose QC in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal to look at current BBC policies and processes relating to sexual harassment. It was later extended to look at other behaviour.

More than 930 individuals took part in the review which found that incidents of sexual harassment at the BBC today are rare, but there is evidence of inappropriate behaviour and bullying. Two-thirds of those questioned said they had witnessed or experienced bullying at the BBC.

The report said: "Throughout our conversations we heard a strong undercurrent of fear – fear of speaking out, fear of reprisal, fear of losing your job, being made redundant, fear of becoming a victim, fear of getting a reputation as a troublemaker and not getting promoted if an employee, or further work if a freelancer, supplier, or contractor.”

BBC director-general Tony Hall said that part of the report made for "uncomfortable reading". He added: "I want zero tolerance of bullying and a culture where people feel able to raise concerns and have the confidence that they will be dealt with appropriately."

Following the recommendations, the BBC’s bullying and harassment policy will be reworked to ensure there is greater focus on informal rather than formal conflict resolution.