The Law Society has launched a Dignity Matters video to highlight the issue of bad behaviour in the workplace.
The video examines the psychology of behaviours, such as bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment, and their impact on individuals and team members.
The ten-minute video also shares ideas about how we can build positive work environments where such negative behaviours are not experienced.
Antoinette Moriarty (psychotherapist and head of Law Society Psychological Services) discusses the psychology of bullying and the complex dynamics behind it.
Blaming and shaming
Rather than jumping straight to blaming and shaming, Antoinette describes how bullying and harassment may be considered an overload where an individual’s capacity to manage from a healthy framework is diminished.
Accordingly, multiple systems must be targeted in order for bullying prevention and intervention to be effective.
In part two of this video series, Noeline Blackwell (Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, and member of the Law Society’s Human Rights and Equality Committee), Paul Hughes (psychotherapist), and Maeve Delargy (Law Society Council member) continue the conversation.
Cian Moriarty points out that: “When those around you are dedicated to ethical conduct, that’s contagious – and so is the reverse.
They consider how bullying and harassment, and sexual harassment may affect people and, while impact may vary, it is universally negative and can be very serious.
In part three, Cian Moriarty (Guidance and Ethics Committee member) and Hannah Carney (Hannah Carney Associates) address how individuals and organisations can create work environments that are free from harmful behaviours.
Cian Moriarty points out that: “When those around you are dedicated to ethical conduct, that’s contagious and so is the reverse.”
Each individual has the ability to significantly influence the workplace as a whole with their behaviours and actions, he adds.
Self-awareness is the starting point for all behavioural and cultural change.
Hannah Carney draws on the importance of senior leaders taking the time to define what respect means within their own firms, and to not only communicate this, but to enact respectful behaviours in all day-to-day activities.
Noeline Blackwell stresses that having up-to-date anti-bullying and harassment policies and procedures are essential to preventing and tackling negative behaviours.
These frameworks provide organisations with a consistent approach to preventing and managing any dignity-at-work issues, and create a space where employees can feel safe to voice their experiences, be acknowledged, and be listened to and supported.
Promoting dignity at work
In 2021, Law Society members and Law School trainees participated in the Dignity Matters survey. The survey asked about participants’ experience of work environments in Ireland, specifically as it relates to bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment.
The final Dignity Matters Report was shared with members and trainees in November 2021 providing a suite of recommendations for the Law Society and the solicitors’ profession.
The report concluded there was an opportunity to create a profession where dignity at work was “endemic” and normalised to one that promoted, safeguarded, and ensured dignity at work.
Survey of the profession
At the Law Society’s 2020 AGM, the Society was mandated by its members to survey the profession on the issue.
Independent external consultant Crowe was appointed to deliver the Dignity Matters survey.
The findings shed light on the nature, prevalence and impact of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment in the profession, as well as recommendations for tackling these types of behaviours.
The findings are unequivocal about the unacceptably high levels of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment.
The Law Society has committed to working collaboratively with members to stamp out such practices.
An effective policy and a strong commitment to building healthier workplaces are required to help eliminate these behaviours, and to help build a safe and harmonious workplace.
A Dignity Matters toolkit will also be launched on the new Psychological Services website.
This toolkit will support individuals, firms and legal teams on dignity-at-work issues.
- Provide legal support and information,
- Give practical advice on prevention and intervention measures,
- Be made available to the profession by September 2022.
The Law Society Skillnet Business of Wellbeing Summit will take place on 11 October this year. It will address dignity at work and how it can be applied in firms throughout Ireland.
The link to register is now online.
LegalMind is an independent and confidential mental-health support available to solicitors, Law School final year trainees and their dependants, 24 hours a day, and can be contacted at 1800 81 41 77.
Law School trainees can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
All members are invited to contact Psychological Services with queries or ideas, or to email PsychologicalServices@lawSociety.ie.