We treat each other fairly and provide equal opportunities
What it's all about
Equal opportunities and respect are important to every Serco workplace and team, and provide the foundation for the kind of environment we all want to work in.
We work in a workplace where we are given equal opportunities to be at our best, develop our talents and build our careers.
Those who have been the victims of unfair treatment know how damaging it can be to our work and wellbeing. It’s an experience that can affect our self-esteem and motivation.
It’s in all our interests to stop unfair treatment and discrimination in their tracks. If we ignore discriminatory behaviour and allow it to take root, we can all become victims in the end.
So we won’t tolerate any form of discrimination and we Speak Up when we see it.
“I’m disabled but at Serco I’m just treated like everyone else. I can’t tell you how great it is to work in a place where you have equal opportunities!!”
What we all need to know and do
We treat others in a way they wish to be treated - fairly and equally.
We take time to understand what behaviours are inappropriate so that we don’t discriminate against other people, even unintentionally.
We always strive to be objective. We make sure our personal feelings, prejudices and preferences don’t influence our decisions.
We follow all laws that protect the rights of any protected status.
We never discriminate against a colleague’s gender, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, political belief, trade union activity, marital status, caring responsibilities, disability, age, citizenship or any other characteristic protected by law.
We never send offensive messages or make derogatory remarks and inappropriate jokes.
If we believe anyone is being treated unfairly, or we see it or experience it, we report it immediately.
We all saw it, every day. Mostly it was just little things - the way she spoke to him. The way she’d find fault. The way she’d humiliate him.
But there was nothing you could really point to and say, ‘There, that’s a clear example of discrimination - of someone treating someone else unfairly.’ Maybe she knew exactly what she could get away with.
Anyway, it was clear to all of us that she was picking on him because of his religion - and she knew he’d never talk back to her.
I looked it up - Jainism. It’s mostly people in India who practice it - apparently over 7 million of them. They take vows that include non-violence to any living creature. And he sure did keep that vow. He never got angry. Just took what she gave him with infinite patience.
Once I found myself walking to work with him. I asked him whether he wanted me to speak up for him.
‘What for?’ he asked.
‘For the way you’re treated.’
“Oh, that,’ he said. ‘You mustn’t worry about that. I’m okay. And I think maybe that she’s not a happy person.’
So I didn’t do anything. None of us did.
Looking back, it was like watching a virus spreading. Because everyone was witnessing something unfair, and nothing was being done, you could see it starting to affect morale.
And then other people began to join in. First of all they’d make jokes about him. Then one complained that he shouldn’t be on the team, he was a “disruptive force”.
And then they started to focus on someone else - Kira. Why was she getting the same pay when she couldn’t do what everyone else had to do? I mean, for goodness sake, she’d lost a leg fighting in the army! And anyway, she was amazing - so brave, positive.
When I heard she was leaving I asked her why.
‘This is a sick place,’ she said, ‘and I want to be well.’
A few months later I left too. Kira was right - if you let someone go on being badly treated, the rot just sets in, and creeps through everything.
I should have spoken up - but I didn’t. I wish I had.
If we ignore discriminatory behaviour and allow it to take root,
we can all become victims in the end.
Investigator: Your colleague was transgender?
Investigator: And everyone knew this?
Investigator: So she was quite open about it?
Investigator: And yet despite seeing her being abused and ridiculed, many times, no one spoke up for her.
Witness: It was … difficult.
Investigator: “Difficult”? She tried to take her own life and left a message on the phone of a colleague saying she couldn’t bear it anymore. In what way were your difficulties greater than hers?
Witness: I didn’t mean that. I meant … she wouldn’t really join in. With the rest of us. So she wasn’t popular. Not many people liked her. They thought she was … weird.
Investigator: “Weird”? Why? Because she was transitioning?
Witness: I think we … didn’t really think what she must have been going through. So sometimes people … weren’t very nice.
Investigator: Are you saying there were others on the team who were treating her unfairly?
Witness: Um …
Investigator: Then do you believe she suffered discrimination?
Witness: Um …
Investigator: You do know what discrimination means?
Witness: Yes. Treating someone unfairly. Or being prejudiced against them. Because of their … um, I can’t remember everything on the list.
Investigator: Then let me remind you. Among many other things it includes treating someone unfairly because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Let me ask you again, do you believe she suffered discrimination?
Witness: [A LONG PAUSE] … Yes.
Investigator: But you didn’t speak up – report what was happening?
Witness: [ANOTHER LONG PAUSE] … No.
If we believe anyone is being treated unfairly we report it immediately.
‘And to top it all off, I found out last week that the boss is only having an affair with one of them. That’s it now, something has got to be done!’
Danny was in the bar with Josef. Over the last few months Josef had heard him sound off about how his team got the short straw at work. From what Josef could make out - in between the outbursts against injustice - there were two teams: Danny’s and the other one.
The one that got extra shifts and overtime opportunities, while Danny’s didn’t. The one with the person that Danny’s boss was having an affair with.
‘We’ve got the more experienced team. Kevin and Aled have even been recognised for their excellent work, but still this other team gets better work and better shifts. It’s every week. It’s just not fair and now I know he’s seeing Himari, well it’s all become clear.’
Josef was being the level-headed one and tried to get Danny to think this through unemotionally for a minute. ‘I’ve seen this before. As soon as people think they’re not being treated fairly, it messes so many things up. Looks to me like that’s happening to you. I think you need to report this.’
‘What’s the point?’ Danny said. ‘He’s a manager. They’ll just take his side.’
‘What have you got to lose, Danny?’
‘Maybe my job!’
It was clear there was no way Danny was going to do anything, and a bit later they said goodnight to each other.
It was a month or so before they met again. Danny sat down, looking sheepish. ‘Okay,’ he said, ‘you were right, I was wrong.’
‘You mean, you did it?’
‘Yeah. And for once I felt listened to and taken seriously. Everything is going to be thoroughly investigated and taken to the next level, it’s such a relief. I’m so glad I spoke up. Should have done it earlier I suppose, but it’s done now and stuff’s going to change!’
Equality and respect are important to every Serco workplace and team and provide the foundation for the kind of environment we all want to work in.
Look, it’s just a simple fact. Since he’s been manager, there have been fourteen promotions, and there’s not been a single woman among them.
We’ve got together - all the women - and asked around. Has he ever tried to touch anyone up? Has he ever been inappropriate? Has he ever said anything against women? Has he ever done anything that shows he’s against us?
Occasionally someone tells you that he said something like, ‘That’s such a good perspective. It could only have come from a woman.’ Or ‘Can we ask the ladies in the room what they think?’
But nothing else.
He’s been clever. Or maybe it’s not that. Maybe he’s completely unaware, and if you were to ask him, he’d swear to you that he likes and respects women, but just thinks they shouldn’t be in any positions of power over men.
Anyway, we’ve decided we’re going to make a complaint. All of us together. And the basis is that one simple fact: fourteen promotions, and not a single one of them women.
What do you think?
He’s homophobic - no doubt about it. Hates gay people. That’s why he’s trying to get rid of me.
I remember when it started. Sean had just proposed, I’d accepted - and we told everyone that same day. Sean works in a different department, so there wasn’t any conflict of interest or anything.
Everyone was so pleased - except him. The look he gave me - like I was something on his shoe.
Ever since he’s been trying to get rid of me. I know he has.
Okay, so I joke around. Why not? People like to laugh, and I like making them. Life’s for living. But he comes along, says, ‘Can you get on with your work, please.’ Or, ‘What are you doing, we’ve got deadlines to meet.’
Just because I’m happy, and he isn’t.
Then he calls me in, tells me I’m being disruptive. He even tries to say others have complained.
That’s not all, either. I ask for a different shift, he says no. I make a tiny mistake, and he’s on me like a ton of bricks.
I told Geri and she said I was just being paranoid, and maybe I should tone things down a bit.
I tell you, he’s trying to get rid of me. It’s because I’m gay. And it’s just not fair.
What do you think?
I’ve worked here for three years. The first two years and nine months were great. Then they made him manager.
We used to go out, way back. But then I found out he’d been cheating on me. I’m just not someone who can accept that. So I ended the relationship.
I told a couple of the team about it. It was stupid, I shouldn’t - but we’d gone out, and well - I’d had too much to drink, hadn’t I?
But I thought he and I had got well over that - I mean it was six years ago. Obviously he hasn’t.
I do understand that it may feel awkward for him. It does for me, I guess. But that doesn’t mean he has to treat me unfairly.
And he does. He took me off the position of facilitator. I’d been doing it for over a year, but he said he’d heard I’d told everyone about us, and so it would be difficult having to work so closely together.
Then I applied for a promotion. Everyone thought I’d get it. But he said there were better candidates, and because everyone knew about our past, he couldn’t be seen favouring me. He said he’d find something else and was sure I understood.
He didn’t, and I don’t.
Now, in meetings he’ll ask the others, never me.
I feel like I’ve been silenced - and it’s not right. It’s not fair.
What do you think?