Bullying does not just happen in school, nor is it always children who are the bullies or the victims of bullying.  Bullying can and does happen everywhere.

Anti-Bullying week is about raising awareness of what bullying is and works to help people stand up to the bully in their community, be that home, work or play. Every year the Anti-Bullying Alliance co-ordinates Anti Bullying week and at Touchstone, we have decided to use this opportunity to focus on bullying at work and specifically, homophobic, bi phobic and transphobic bullying.

In common with our staff here at Touchstone, 6 million people in the UK work for a Stonewall Diversity Champion but many millions more do not.

This year 75,000 young people will be bullied because they are gay and 21,000 will attempt suicide – some people will die as a result.

Bullying at work is as harmful as bullying in any other place.  Bullying can lead to harassment which puts employers as well as employees at risk of legal action so everyone should take bullying and harassment at work very seriously and act if they become aware that this is happening.

Under the Equality Act 2010, harassment is unwanted conduct which is related to one of the following: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation and is therefore unlawful.

As a Stonewall Top 100 employer (19th in 2015) and in line with our commitment to LGBT equality, Touchstone is supporting Stonewall’s “No Bystanders” campaign, which calls on all of us to challenge teasing or intimidating language wherever we hear it.

Touchstone also runs a very active staff Allies programme which brings together straight and LGBT colleagues under the umbrella of “Pink Pals” whose mission statement  is:

“For those who have been stigmatised, discriminated against and silenced because of fear or shame, we offer to be your voice, to hold your hands, to stand by your side, and we promise to fight for an end to your mistreatment and suffering.

 We are your Allies. We will: Come out, Speak Out, Join In.”

As part of delivering this mission in 2015, Pink Pals have created a flag for Allies to publically proclaim their roles as advocates and supporters and on 7th January 2016, we will give out Stonewall rainbow shoe laces  to all existing and new members who want to show their support for LGBT equality within Touchstone.

To find out more, watch the No Bystanders video by visiting the website, or follow Stonewall on Twitter.

If you believe you are being bullied and/or harassed at work, Stonewall advises the following:

  • Tell someone at work: Firstly, speak informally to your manager, senior manager, or someone in HR. Tell them what has happened and ask that they take action to help resolve the matter.
  • If the incidents of discrimination or harassment are ongoing, try to keep a diary, as this could be used as evidence.
  • Consider talking to your trade union, if you are a member of one. Some unions have specific forums or groups for their lesbian, gay and bisexual members.
  • If the situation is not resolved, then you could submit a formal grievance to your employer. If you are not happy with how your employer handles your grievance you can submit an appeal.
  • Once you have been through these stages, if you are not satisfied that your situation has been resolved, then you could consider seeking legal advice with a view to taking your employer to an employment tribunal. Find out more about employment tribunals here.

Bullying is wrong but by standing up together, we can end all forms of discrimination and make all our places safe spaces for everyone. Sign the pledge today!

Alison Lowe
Contact: 0113 2718277
Twitter: @Touchstone_Spt