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UK Parliament to join the The Old Vic's Guardians Network

30 January 2020

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

The Old Vic and the UK Parliament are delighted to announce the latter's plans to implement its very own Guardians Programme, which will reinforce Parliament's commitment to transforming workplace culture in Westminster.

Launched by John Benger, Clerk of the House of Commons, and Ed Ollard, the Clerk of the Parliaments, the Guardians Programme joins a number of new initiatives that will see staff across the Parliamentary Estate encouraged and supported to share experiences and have a voice in informing professional behaviour.

So far, these have included the development of new organisational values in each House, the removal of hierarchical rules and working practices, and training for staff in both Houses on recognising misconduct and being confident in tackling it.

Parliament will now join the Guardians Network which has already brought together over 40 other organisations from a variety of sectors including the Almeida Theatre, BFI, Coutts, Macfarlanes, Penguin Random House and Tate in a collective effort to eradicate inappropriate workplace behaviour.

The Guardians Programme and Network was innovated by The Old Vic and the Network is supported pro bono by law firm Lewis Silkin and in conjunction with safeguarding expert Joanna Nicolas. The Programme is designed to help any organisation go further in its commitment to creating a safe and secure working environment for all.

Launched in 2018, the Guardians Programme is structured around a group of trained staff who offer a confidential outlet for colleagues to share concerns about behaviour or culture in the workplace. The Programme is designed and structured to become embedded into the culture of an organisation and is one mechanism for ensuring that people are supported in raising concerns about inappropriate workplace behaviour if they wish to do so. The existence of Guardians is a positive influence that contributes to the creation of an open and transparent culture.

Kate Varah, Executive Director of The Old Vic, said:
‘All at The Old Vic are delighted to welcome Parliament to the Guardians Programme and Network. This is a strong recognition of the Network's ongoing success in taking an active stance to improve workplace behaviour across multiple sectors. It is incredible to be pioneering a cross-sector Network that evidences a collective commitment to making workplaces respectful, supportive environments in which everyone can flourish'

John Benger, Clerk of the House of Commons, and Ed Ollard, the Clerk of the Parliaments, said:
‘Both Houses of Parliament need a working environment where everyone can thrive, and a key part of that is learning from good practice elsewhere. Joining the Guardians Network will give everyone working across the Parliamentary Estate an additional source of support when facing issues of misconduct and help us reach our goal of making Parliament an inclusive and supportive workplace. We are excited to join with The Old Vic and learn everything we can from this new endeavour'

The UK Parliament's Programme officially launched on 30 January 2020 with a callout for staff to apply to be trained Guardians, following which training will take place in early spring with the aim of full implementation by May 2020. 

Resources for creating a Guardians Programme and further training can be found here.