In Autumn of 2016 a member of Wharf Chambers raised some concerns regarding a worker stemming from the worker’s abusive behaviour in their relationship with the member.
Our initial response to this disclosure was very poor, and we did not act swiftly enough to work with that member on their concerns, which only caused more harm. For many months our correspondence with this member did not result in a resolution or any action being taken which honoured their experience.
We failed to act in accordance with our stated values and for a long time failed to acknowledge that we were unprepared as an organisation to respond to this disclosure. It was too long before we reached out to external resources for support.
The member who brought this information to us felt strongly that Wharf Chambers as an organisation should commit to doing some development work on our Safer Spaces agreement to ensure that workers are accountable to it, to have conversations in the organisation about how to respond to abuse, and to have some broader conversations about organisational accountability.
Since the summer of 2017 we have been working with an external facilitator, from Navigate, on: recognising our failings; being accountable to the harm caused; and developing policies that help us respond supportively and effectively to survivors.
We are currently working on:
- A Workers Conduct Policy for both co-op workers and club collective which will be developed in line with our values as an organisation and safer spaces agreement.
- Development of a Complaints Procedure specifically to be used when members have a grievance toward workers or people elected to the club collective. This procedure will aim to ensure complaints are prioritised and investigated thoroughly, the process recorded at each stage and the process be transparent.
- Template to capture and monitor all complaints.
- Review of contract terms for all workers, both co-op members and bar workers.
- Review of current grievance procedure for all workers.
- Review of expectations of club collective members.
While we are working on organisational development, we have taken the decision to ensure that the worker in question is no longer working behind the bar at Wharf Chambers. We are taking this worker through a procedure to assess their suitability and capability for continuing to work with us. Outside of Wharf Chambers the worker is engaging in a personal accountability process for this situation.
We write this to be transparent, accountable, and apologise to our members and all those who invest in and support Wharf Chambers.
Please direct any questions to members[at]wharfchambers.org (which is not accessible to the worker in question).
Wharf Chambers Coop and Club Collective