Creating a Policy

Policies provide a road map for the organization and its members, continuity to the activities of the organization over time as personnel come and go, and ensure that matters are dealt with in a consistent fashion. Most organizations already have policies such as selection of coaches and athletes for competition, sanctioning and running tournaments, and appeals of decisions. Harassment and Abuse policies are additions to the policy foundation already in place in most organizations.

Developing a Harassment and Abuse Policy

A strong policy dealing with Harassment and Abuse raises awareness and sends a message to the members that harassment and abuse will not be tolerated, while providing a mechanism to deal with these issues quickly, effectively, and responsibly.

There are two options when developing policies pertaining to harassment and abuse:

  1. Integrate harassment and abuse into existing codes of conduct and discipline policies.
  2. Create a separate, stand-alone harassment and abuse policy.

Regardless of the approach chosen, there are five key areas that must be covered:

  1. A statement of purpose, scope and application of the policy.
  2. A statement of standard of behaviour which is expected, and of unacceptable behaviour.
  3. A description of the procedures for reviewing complaints when the standards of behaviour are breached, and these procedures must:
    • satisfy legal requirements of procedural fairness
    • address how an organization will respond to a complaint
    • show how information about a complaint will be gathered
    • inform how a hearing will occur and how a decision will be made
  4. A guideline for imposing disciplinary sanctions in the event there is a finding of harassment or abuse against an individual.
  5. An appeal mechanism to provide recourse to an individual who is not satisfied with the outcome of the dispute.

Note: If developing a stand-alone harassment and abuse policy, all five of these elements must be included in it.

If the approach is to integrate harassment and abuse into a code of conduct and discipline policy, then the harassment and abuse wording must be integrated into two separate policies:

  • a code of conduct (1 and 2 above)
  • a discipline procedure (3, 4, and 5 above)

Key Principles Required in a Policy

The policy must be fair to all parties involved, easy to understand and implement, and must meet your legal obligations.

A well written policy will act as an organization’s best friend by:

  • ensuring that individuals respect the process because it is viewed as objective, fair, and effective.
  • ensuring that individuals are dealt with fairly and responsibly.
  • simplifying a complicated process with a clear outline of how the issue will be processed.
  • protecting your organization by clearly outlining what is unacceptable behavior.

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