In some cases it might be obvious if someone has behaved badly and is out of line. Often, though, things are less clear, and in every partnership it will be important to have an agreed code of conduct to guide you. This might include statements to sign up to, such as:
- I will declare any conflict of interest or of loyalty, or any circumstance that might be viewed by others as such, as soon as it arises.
- I will not personally gain materially or financially from my role as a member, nor will I permit others to do so as a result of my actions or negligence.
- Everything the partnership does will be able to stand the test of scrutiny by the public, charity regulators, community members, stakeholders, funders and the courts.
- Integrity, respect and honesty will be the hallmarks of all conduct when dealing with others within the partnership and equally when dealing with individuals and institutions outside it.
You need to agree how you will respond to any breaches of your code of conduct, for example:
- Outside of the meeting, a nominated person, such as the chair of the Big Local partnership or worker, speaks with the person about what they did, when they did it, how it made the other person feel and why it was inappropriate. It’s important to stick to the facts. You might ask why the person behaved like that. You should ask them not to do it again, and tell them that they will receive a warning the next time they do it.
- If the person behaves inappropriately again, a nominated person, such as the chair of the Big Local partnership, the worker or Big Local rep, should follow the same process as above, but this time give them a written warning. This states that if they behave inappropriately again they will be removed from the Big Local partnership.
- If it happens a third time, the person should be sent a letter, informing them that they have been removed from the Big Local partnership and the reasons why.
Either as part of your code of conduct, or in addition to, it is important as a group to clearly set out and agree on what behaviour is not acceptable, for example:
- insults and name-calling
- swearing, offensive language and gestures
- inappropriate jokes
- behaviour that ridicules or undermines someone or something
- inappropriate or unnecessary physical contact
- physical assault or threats of physical assault
- intimidating, coercive or threatening actions and behaviour
- unwelcome sexual advances
- isolation, non-cooperation or deliberate exclusion
- inappropriate comments about a person’s appearance
- intrusive questions or comment, and malicious gossip, about a person’s private life
- offensive images and literature
- pestering, spying or stalking.
If the behaviour becomes threatening or intimidating, the person feeling threatened or intimidated may decide to take it up with a relevant authority, such as the police.