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Protecting Women at UK Business Events: The Rise of Event Codes of Conduct

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In response to growing concerns about harassment and misconduct at business events, organisations in the UK are implementing event codes of conduct to safeguard attendees and protect corporate reputations.

Prompted by high-profile cases such as the Harvey Weinstein scandal and revelations about the Presidents Club dinner, companies are increasingly focused on addressing misconduct beyond traditional office settings.

Trade bodies and industry groups, including the Financing & Leasing Association and the International Securities Lending Association, have introduced zero-tolerance policies for harassment and discrimination at their events. These policies aim to create safer environments for attendees and deter inappropriate behavior.

Experts suggest that while the primary goal is to prevent harassment, the codes of conduct also serve to protect corporate reputations. By demonstrating a commitment to addressing misconduct, organizations mitigate the risk of reputational damage in case of incidents.

Recent scandals, such as those involving the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), have underscored the need for robust policies. Following allegations of sexual harassment at CBI events, the organisation revamped its events code of conduct and made it easily accessible on its website.

Legal changes, including amendments to the Equality Act, are also influencing the adoption of event codes of conduct. Employers will soon be required to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment, even at events involving third parties.

While the proliferation of codes of conduct represents progress, the effectiveness of these policies remains to be seen. Employers must demonstrate a genuine commitment to enforcing the codes and holding wrongdoers accountable.

Ultimately, the implementation of event codes of conduct is not only about preventing misconduct but also about fostering a culture of trust and psychological safety for employees. By prioritising respect and accountability, organisations aim to create inclusive and welcoming environments for all attendees.