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CBS shop steward: Our culture permits offensive behavior

CBS from outside

(Photo by Mette Koors)

Employees experience offensive behavior mainly from their colleagues or a manager from their own unit, many never mention the episodes and have received no assistance to help them deal with the issues. These are the three serious trends the Shop Steward for AC TAP personnel highlights following the new job satisfaction survey at CBS. Also, the General Consultation Committee members find the incidence of harassments at CBS ‘high’.

News |   08. Feb 2022

Mette Koors


A rising number of CBS employees are experiencing ‘harassment or other verbal, offensive behavior’ the new job satisfaction survey from 2021 shows, despite the zero-tolerance bullying policy at CBS.

The General Consultation Committee (GCC) members find harassment levels at CBS ‘high’ according to the minutes of the latest GCC meeting, and Tine Løvig Simonsen, Shop Steward for AC TAP personnel, says that she ‘completely agrees’ with the committee members and sees three serious trends in particular in the satisfaction reports.

“Firstly, I see that the offensive behavior is experienced particularly from colleagues or a manager in their own unit in three out of four categories. Secondly, although fortunately many employees mention the behavior to others, still, far too many don’t, and therefore deal with their experiences of being offended alone, which is unacceptable as it creates serious dissatisfaction for the individual and reveals that our culture permits offensive behavior.”

Thirdly, many of the problems are not addressed, according to the shop steward.

“Unfortunately, far too many colleagues who have been exposed to offensive behavior find that they have received no assistance. For the categories bullying and harassment, the figure is over half. And naturally, that is serious because one offensive act is always one too many.”

On November 30, the GCC (HSU in Danish) discussed the new job satisfaction survey. However, determining which focus areas CBS is to actively work on as follow-up on the survey has been postponed until an extraordinary meeting on February 24.

Harassment or other offensive behavior

The increase in offensive behavior is most apparent in the new category “Harassment or other verbal, offensive behavior” in the job satisfaction survey. Figures in the other four categories, such as bullying, sexual harassment, violence and threats about violence, have dropped from 2019 to 2021.

“The new category gives us as employees an opportunity to pinpoint some experiences that we have not previously been able to include. And create a structural framework that means we can talk about changing a culture and behavior that are experienced as offensive, but are not classified as actual bullying, threats or sexual harassment. It is about our shared culture, about how we accommodate each other and respect each other’s boundaries at work,” says Tine Løvig Simonsen.

Concerned GCC

According to the GCC meeting minutes from November, the members highlighted another concern: “The GCC members agreed that it gave cause for concern that the employees do not wish to proceed with experiences of offensive behavior if that is the case.” The members also wondered why “although the number of offensive episodes is high, the Shop Steward team does not receive anywhere near as many enquiries as the survey would suggest. The GCC discussed potential causes.”

Why do employees choose not to contact shop stewards when they experience offensive episodes?

“As shop stewards, we find our colleagues are comfortable coming to us with many different problems, including experiences of offensive incidents. If, for one reason or another, you don’t want to talk with your own shop steward, you can always approach another or the joint shop steward. In this context, it is vital to remember that it may even be very difficult for an individual to talk about and not least proceed with,” says Tine Løvig Simonsen and continues:

“It is therefore especially important that as colleagues, we react when we witness offensive behavior, even if we do not react immediately. A shop steward cannot proceed with a case about offensive behavior unless the person who is offended comes forward, which can be difficult, especially if a manager is involved.”

Alternatively, employees can submit an anonymous enquiry via the CBS whistleblower scheme.

What will the Shop Steward system do to inspire trust so that people approach Shop Stewards?

“For many years, CBS has been at the forefront of following up on offensive behavior and dissatisfaction, as HR has a clear focus on the physical work environment and zero tolerance of bullying. We share responsibility for spreading news on HR’s Shareside about the physical work environment and the many opportunities available for receiving help,” replies Tine Løvig Simonsen.

HR has devised a follow-up process for units where satisfaction survey results are challenging that also involves shop stewards and health and safety representatives.

When is the situation critical?

The satisfaction surveys do not always give employees the opportunity to evaluate their closest manager’s manager (head of division).

“For years, shop stewards have requested the option for TAP employees to evaluate their head of division, which has previously been possible, just as VIP employees can evaluate their heads of department. The head of division in administration often have considerable influence on the individual administrative unit’s work tasks and strategic portfolio and not least on the management culture,” explains Tine Løvig Simonsen.

According to the minutes of the GCC meeting on 30 November, the GCC members discussed following up on various points in the satisfaction surveys. For instance, the minutes state that the shop stewards want:

“The GCC to receive a progress update on action plan implementation in units where the survey shows special challenges may exist with the work environment or relationships between employees and management. A follow-up initiative must be seriously addressed, must take place in the individual units and must involve the relevant managers and shop stewards.

The GCC to work on evaluating the reports, action plans and evaluations of action plans for the physical work environment, including identifying, selecting and working with some multidisciplinary initiative areas.”


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