We put the First Women Alliance’s years of experience to work tackling readers’ dilemmas about business, workplace issues and personal problems.
Q: I run a micro business and one of my employees has complained about being victimised. What is the best way to deal with this issue without appearing to take sides? How can I calm the situation before it escalates?
– Sharon Willis.
Lisa Powis, founder of Fresh Insurance Group says:
Businesses should be proud of diversification; at Fresh Insurance we are proud of our diverse workforce and there is no tolerance in respect of victimisation.
All companies, however small, should take any complaint of victimisation seriously. In fact, to not take it seriously could allow this type of behaviour to become commonplace and it could escalate.
In the first instance, I would suggest, if there isn’t an HR Manager, then the employer should sit down with the complainant, finding out the reasons for the allegations and gathering evidence and take any statements.
The employer would then investigate the matter further by taking statements from any other witnesses or persons involved.
Once all statements and investigations were completed the final step would be to agree an outcome and discuss with the complainant, taking action as necessary.
In any company, there should be no tolerance in terms of victimisation and if the outcome meant this had occurred, then action would need to be taken.
By the employer showing that the victimisation has been treated seriously and not ignored, then this should calm the situation down.
Q: I work at a major City firm and I work in a team with a laddish culture. The men often bond over drinks and make some decisions without my input. How do I get involved without having to get plastered all the time?
Shauni O’Neill, duty train staff manager at London Underground says:
I would suggest trying to build bridges by spending lunch with you colleagues and maybe popping out for a drink every now and again. This has always worked for me and has been my happy medium.
Q: What have you found to be the best way for CEOs or management to get feedback from employees?
Kate Lester, founder of Diamond Logistics says:
At Diamond we have a 360 degrees constructive feedback system. It means everyone – and I mean everyone – gets personal feedback on performance, what people like and what they don’t like. Annually we formalise this and publish the results of the feedback on the boards behaviours and performance to the rest of the team (their peer feedback remains private but we do discuss it with them).
This encourages lots of feedback in our weekly team meets – after all, if you are allowed to say that your boss micromanaging you annoys you without ramifications, then you are very happy to say when you think something else is going wrong. So, in our weekly team meets on a Wednesday each individual goes through wins, fails and cracks that are appearing. These are documented and we concentrate on working on the constructive feedback to make our business run more smoothly