As an employer, the institution has a responsibility for the safety, health and well-being of its scientists and other staff members. Different aspects of being a good employer or staff member come into play at different times: preventively, and during and after threatening incidents.
For a more extensive analysis, please see the guide on tackling threatening and intimidating behaviour towards scientists, which has been created for all Dutch universities, and which lists action points for the institution and staff members. The guide addresses issues such as awareness and prevention, responding to an incident and points for attention following incidents. The action points below only include a few of the most important aspects.
Guide on tackling threats and intimidation against scientists
Want to read more about what employers, managers and staff can do in tackling threats and intimidation?
What can you do as an institution?
Put an active policy in place
Make sure there is a clear allocation of responsibilities and a procedure for dealing with incidents, intimidation and threats. Anchor this in the existing safety policy and make sure that everybody knows their role.
Set up a hotline so that threats can always be reported. Record all incidents reported, so that the magnitude of the problem can be assessed.
As an institution, take a stand internally and externally against issues such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and ableism. Make sure that managers, the security department, the communications department and the board are familiar with the definition of diversity and inclusion and have the knowledge they need.
Protect the boundaries
As an institution, adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to threats and the intimidation of staff members. Make sure that everybody knows that these are always worth reporting and refer staff members to the options for doing this.
Dutch universities agreed to file a report on every threat, and every case of physical or sexual violence, stalking, burglary or theft.
Take all threats seriously. The impact on staff members can be significant. Intimidation and threats are not just ‘part of the job’.
Train and support your staff members
Ensure that managers within your institution recognise the urgency of the problem or ensure that they receive training in this area. It is important that they are aware of the protocol and the procedure to be followed.
Make sure that staff members receive training in online resilience and the safe use of social media.
Make sure that staff members are able to get all the support they need, including psychosocial help.
Staff members on a temporary employment contract or staff members who feel particularly dependent on their manager are often particularly vulnerable and may be reluctant to report a threat. Create a safe working environment in which all employees feel confident about reporting incidents.