Harassment Bullying and Banter

When is it funny?
When is it offensive?
How do you challenge it?

“Banter, when positive develops relationships, reduces stress, diffuses tension and can support people working together.
Negative banter can just be bullying with a different name.”
Institute of Leadership and Management.

“20% of women and 10 % of men report a Loss of confidence due to work place banter.” Institute of Leadership and Management.

“Work place banter affects twice as many women – and 4% have left their jobs because of it.” Institute of Leadership and Management.


To develop participants’ understanding of diversity and inclusion issues at work, particularly arising from banter and both intentional and unintentional harassment.


By the end of this course, participants will:

  1. have explored how to address examples of unintentional harassment that arise in a
    professional workplace including banter, gossip, the use of social media and
    email exchanges;
  2. be able to explain the risks for an employer and an individual personally arising from
    inappropriate behaviour at work; and
  3. have had the opportunity to benchmark their approach to these issues with the
    approach of other employers.

Example Session Outline

Introductions & objectives

Minimum Standards: the Legal Framework

  • Relevance of the law to day-to-day interactions at work
  • Focus on impact not intention
  • “a safe place to work”
  • At work or outside of work?
  • No retaliation for complaints
  • Who is responsible?

Beyond Legal Compliance: Respect at Work

  • Filling gaps in legal protection
  • Policy; values; code of conduct / practice
  • Exploring real life scenarios including…
    • “banter” and jokes
    • gossip
    • misuse of email & internet
    • social media
    • work related social events

Relevance of Unconscious Bias

  • What is this?
  • Influence on day-to-day interactions
  • Active challenge

Questions & Answers