Inspiring Super-Network Policy Advice – Code of Conduct with Volkswagen Group UK and Toyota GB

Earlier this month we had the pleasure of hosting our second Inspiring Super-Network Policy Advice session, along with Aman Sidhu, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Partner at Volkswagen Group UK.

Aman shared more about Volkswagen Group’s recent journey to update its Code of Conduct Policy in collaboration with its employee network groups, to focus on creating an inclusive culture where everyone acts with integrity.

Rachel Shepherd spoke on behalf of Toyota GB and shared their approach to this policy and Toyota’s effort of conscious inclusivity.
We wanted to share with you, six top tips to consider when creating a policy within your own organisation.

  1. Involve colleagues in the creation of the policy

Ensure that there is consultation with key representatives including women’s and inclusion networks. The policy should feel reasonable to colleagues and include their suggestions so that they own it. 


  1. The tone and approach should be “adult to adult” 

The aim is to create a self-regulating ecosystem of good behaviour within the organisation and the immediate supply chain. People need to know that this is for all of them as reasonable and fair-minded adults to uphold and regulate, it is not for HR or leadership to instruct them how to behave in a “parent-child” manner, or to need to regularly police it.


  1. Microaggressions must be shown to be totally unacceptable

It is not all about sexual assault or serious harassment. Casual sexist or racist insults, gaslighting, locker room banter and “zinger” cutting / hurtful comments are all ways that affect the confidence and performance of women (and most people of any type for that matter, but women and underrepresented groups are most likely to be on the receiving end), often leading to them leaving the company. The policy should include clear examples of what a microaggression is, and also provide support and education to those who may genuinely be afraid of “saying the wrong thing”. 


  1. Treating others with dignity and respect should stretch beyond the workplace

It is important to communicate within your policy that the requirement to treat others with dignity and respect is essential both within and outside of the workplace. The colleague is representing the company brand, and so is expected to behave appropriately when on any company business, and also in interactions with people who are both employed within the company but also those employed elsewhere. The same expectations should be communicated to suppliers and clients about their staff.


  1. The policy should be transparent during the recruitment process 

It is evident that many applicants, particularly those from underrepresented groups,  want to know and understand the values of the company with regard to dignity and respect during the recruitment process rather than wait to find it out when they arrive. It helps them to decide if the company’s ethos and culture is the right fit for them.


  1. The dignity and respect policy must be aligned with the mental health policy

Inappropriate behaviour can be a significant cause of mental health issues in the workplace. It is essential that your mental health policy recognises that factors that detrimentally affect mental health can include issues experienced within the company as well as any internal or external influences on the individual. Your policy should acknowledge this possible impact and link to the mental health policy, and outline steps to protect and support individuals who are subject to inappropriate behaviour. It is also advisable to include welfare support for those who are subject to allegations under investigation. 

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