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Code of conduct and training refreshed to tackle sexual harassment in hybrid work environment 

New research published by timeTo into sexual harassment levels in advertising shows 49% of respondents believe it will be more of a problem as businesses return to offices next year versus their experience during lockdown. The study by Credos, UK advertising’s think tank, on behalf of the Advertising Association, NABS and WACL, identified concern home working will have created dangerous knowledge gaps around the issue of sexual harassment with respondents worried boundaries of appropriate behaviour being forgotten. In response, the timeTo team has refreshed its Code of Conduct and training programme to meet the new demands of a hybrid work environment. 

The research of 1250 respondents across the UK showed there is a concern around ‘pent up’ emotions leading to an increase in inappropriate behaviour once restrictions are lifted. The findings also reveal that while social distancing, with people physically further apart, may mean fewer incidents of physical harassment, others fear fewer people in offices could make individuals more vulnerable. Despite the visibility of the #metoo movement over the past three years, nearly a third of respondents were still unsure of the strength of their employers’ stance against sexual harassment in the workplace.

The timeTo training has been updated to reflect the current ways of working, incorporate research learnings and help educate on ways sexual harassment can manifest when working virtually or in a hybrid environment. Taster sessions will be available for senior leaders of timeTo endorsing companies from January. Interested parties should contact to sign up. 

timeTo’s refreshed Code of Conduct includes:

  • Advice on working in a virtual world and education on what forms online sexual harassment can take

  • Key guidance and considerations for employers when working virtually and in hybrid environments 

  • Key guidance for those who have been directly affected by sexual harassment and ways to keep safe

  • A reaffirmation of our collective responsibility to ensure we work towards a ‘new normal’, in which no forms of harassment are tolerated and giving practical guidance for us all

Helen Calcraft, founder of Lucky Generals and timeTo Steering Group member, said: “Just because the people who perpetrate sexual harassment have been away for a while doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. This research shows that a lot of people in our industry are scared to come back to the office, and this is wrong. It also shows they want this issue tackled. Our new training is relevant for all seniority levels and shorter in length than before to make it more accessible, so we strongly encourage managers and senior leaders to attend and help us bring the change that is needed in our new working environments.”

Stephen Woodford, chief executive, Advertising Association, said: “2020 has been a tumultuous year and we are determined that we make good on our collective ambition to build back better. This has to include a renewed approach to ensure our workplaces are ones that are safe and can be enjoyed by all, without any fear of sexual harassment. I urge all companies to conduct the refreshed training and ensure the new code of conduct is seen and understood by all.”

timeTo is a collaboration between the Advertising Association, NABS and WACL, and backed by ISBA and the IPA is aiming to address the problem of sexual harassment in the UK advertising and marketing industry.

The campaign builds on the global #MeToo and #TimesUp movements with a recognition that all parts of the advertising industry are affected – all sexualities and genders, agencies, marketers and media owners. It hopes to prove that, by taking action together, the industry will be better placed to make a positive change to end sexual harassment. Any company wishing to support timeTo should sign-up via the timeTo website

Work from Advertising Association