So one measure of assessment in a grievance or disciplinary investigation is whether the behaviour fell below the standards of the ‘ordinary reasonable person’ in the same situation – the famous ‘man on the Clapham Omnibus’. After the shocking referendum result, has the definition of that ‘reasonable’ behaviour changed?
While there was racism in the UK prior to Brexit, the tone of the Leave campaign gave it a perceived legitimacy, which is now visible across England.
So who is going to represent the ‘reasonable’ man? Clearly a percentage of the British public – who are all more than capable of sitting on the said Omnibus and who each believes they are ‘reasonable’ – believe in racism, bigotry and discrimination, and would take the view that racist abuse at work as perfectly acceptable.
We need clarification from the likes of the CIPD, ACAS and the Government. But in the meantime, CMP is going to continue to investigate racist allegations with the same impartiality, and applying the same (old?) standards of ‘reasonableness’, to do our bit to contribute to a non-racist, non-discriminatory Britain.
Katherine Graham has worked in the field of dispute resolution for over 15 years’ as a mediator and trainer. She has mediated on the BBC Learning Zone and has given keynote speeches on conflict management and mediation for The MOD’s Equal Opportunities Conference, Women in Business Annual conference and “Getting Beyond Conflict”, a national conference on workplace dispute resolution. Katherine joined CMP Resolutions (formerly Conflict Management Plus) in 1992. She was made a director of the company in 1998 and became Managing Director in May 2009. Prior to this she managed teams in publishing and communications departments for major national charities including The Work Foundation, the RNID and the King’s Fund. She was the inaugural Chair of the Institute of Conflict Management.
Author of The Directory of Mediation Services for Social Landlords (National Housing Federation)
Editor, “Equilibrium” – a quarterly journal of dispute resolution
Co-author Mediation for Managers (NB Books 2002)