What is respect in the workplace today?

As part of our diversity, equity and inclusion work we want to share an article we have written based on our response to recent tabloid headlines, LinkedIn virals, political news and day-to-day office politics. 

This is a collection of our thoughts on the ‘unwritten rules‘ of civil behaviour in the workplace. We welcome more thoughts on how to create a fairer and more equal and equitable workplace whether you are a PM or a PA.

Although we all do know what respect is in most cases, it can be a grey area or forgotten at times especially when we are angry, unhappy/happy/have high energy or want to bond with people over shared intell, so we want to go through and suggest some ways to truly respect our coworkers or future partners/clients, and work towards a healthy working environment. We suggest:

  • Do think about other’s mental health and reasons why they might be having a bad day
  • Not talking over people
  • Respecting personal time, unless agreed do not bother people outside of office hours
  • Learn about biases and be aware of them so you can avoid them, especially around gender, culture, parenting and LGBT+ topics
  • Don’t be aggressive or passive aggressive: do not have tolerance for any form of physical or verbal assault or provocation, be aware of your language and tone, avoid emailing/tweeting/posting when emotionally affected
  • No bad-mouthing or gossiping about colleagues or clients in or out of meetings
  • Respecting pronouns and the latest language or terms
  • Don’t steal ideas or cut people out; give credit where due
  • Don’t boast excessively, or over promise, both cause expectations to be skewed and cause disappointment
  • Allow others space to think, speak and have time-out
  • Don’t ghost people
  • Give a contract if work is being carried out and let people know as early as possible if you won’t renew
  • Your word should be as good as a contract, unless something changes a lot, which you should clearly explain, then try to stick to your agreements
  • Don’t share personal social media, videos, pictures or texts with other colleagues or the press
  • Smell clean and be clean 
  • Be on time to meetings and to work, and communicate if you will be delayed as early as you can, reschedule if you will miss the meeting
  • Communicate if you feel you are being disrespected, without fear of repercussions
  • Avoid winking at colleagues or visitors in the office, keep it professional
  • Be decent/be considerate

Can you think of any others?

When you move country you can read book about the culture so you know how to respect people but we don’t often have these rules in a workplace. Are these rules universal? Should we be adding more to the unwritten code of civil behaviour or spelling it out more clearly? We welcome your thoughts, additions and debate to support inclusion and decent behaviour.

What you put out there as an individual and what you are willing to put up with for yourself and others is how it all starts. We do know these standards get broken constantly (and we even maybe watch reality TV shows for entertainment dramatising all of these office politics) but if you are in the thick of it what can you do to make sure you are psychologically safe and get respect from your colleagues or those you are pitching to? It’s not always that easy and maybe making the unwritten, written, might help create a healthy office culture to be in. We hope so as having a bad time at work really affected people’s quality of life and is likely to cause high turnover for a business so it’s important to get this right.

This article is posted as part of FGA’s personal development and diversity, equity and inclusion work. You can read more about our thoughts and work here.

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