BBC bullying 'a very real concern'
Published 02/05/2013 | 10:51
Harassment and bullying within the BBC is a "very real concern", according to a report commissioned in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Although sexual harassment was found to be "very rare" - with 37 complaints in the past six years throughout its staff - the corporation said it would be tightening up its procedures for dealing with staff concerns.
An 80-page report by barrister Dinah Rose heard there were "known bullies" within the organisation, and although inappropriate behaviour was "not pervasive or endemic" at the moment, the report concluded: "It is visible, frequent and consistent enough to be a very real concern."
The review into harassment and bullying found some staff were scared of making complaints, they found the current procedures "uncomfortable" and many felt if they tried to raise concerns informally they would be "swept under the carpet".
The report said some behaviour went unchallenged by senior managers, and it found: "Some individuals are seen as being 'untouchable' due to their perceived value to the BBC."
Responding to the findings, the BBC said it will remove gagging clauses from its contracts to make it easier for staff to speak out about any harassment claims.
It will also speed up grievance procedures and draw staff's attention to the sort of behaviour it expects from them, as well as revamping its bullying and harassment policy with a new emphasis on sorting out issues informally.
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, welcomed action to tackle bullying, and said: "It is quite clear that bullying has become an institutionalised problem at the BBC, one that has taken hold over many years."
BBC director-general Tony Hall said parts of the report made "uncomfortable reading".
"We need to be honest about our shortcomings and single minded in addressing them. I want zero tolerance of bullying and a culture where people feel able to raise concerns and have the confidence that they will be dealt with appropriately. I also want people to be able to speak freely about their experiences of working at the BBC so that we can learn from them."