Harrassment and Bullying Policies – The benefit of CoPs with European Dimension

Author: Ana Petronilho

In 2017, the Portuguese Parliament enforced the legislation on harassment. While the legislation exists and was revised recently, the reporting procedures are often not clear or tend to be difficult. For the Higher Education Sector, gender equality plans (GEPs) are mandatory in the private and public sectors, but thus far, universities have been excluded from this obligation. While many Portuguese Higher Education Institutions have already implemented GEPs, the vast majority are only now devising gender equality plans. In the meantime, several aspects remain unaddressed.

ITQB is part of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is participating in designing the first Gender Equality plan. Participation of ITQB NOVA in CoP life Sciences provided the contact other with realities regarding gender equality policies in HEI. One such case is sexual harassment and bullying.

While no protocol for reporting sexual harassment and bullying exists at ITQB-NOVA, our participation in the CoP Life Sciences allowed us to be in contact with other realities within the Higher Education Sector at European Level. CoP is comprised of several universities and institutes that are more advanced in gender equality, with policies already implemented or about to be put in place by CoP participants. These institutions' different realities enable a continuous benchmarking exercise, whereby we can learn from good practices, understand the problems faced in implementation, and the acquired know-how provided by their experience. For harassment and bullying policies, we came across with, e.g., the reporting procedures employed by the University of Bristol, or the zero-tolerance policy of IGTP (Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute).

While the design of ITQB NOVA harassment policies could be drawn from scratch, the experience of other HIE in this area is extremely valuable and will facilitate the development of a code of conduct and policies, reporting methodologies, and procedures for non-compliance.