Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy

Last updated 22/12/2023

1. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to ensure all members always treat staff and other members of AD Guild with dignity and respect. At AD Guild, we value and recognise the importance of an inclusive culture and we do not condone any form of harassment or bullying.

2. AD Guild statement on equality

It is AD Guild’s policy not to discriminate against individuals based on their gender, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, gender reassignment, race, religion, or belief, colour, nationality, ethic or national origin, disability, age, or pregnancy (collectively “the Protected Characteristics”). The principle of non-discrimination and equality applies to the treatment of visitors, clients, AD Guild Members, and Suppliers. Unlawful discrimination because of a Protected Characteristic will be referred to as “Unlawful Grounds”. Discrimination may be:

  • Direct - Where someone is treated less favourably because they have a Protected Characteristic.
  • Indirect - Where an individual is subject to an unjustified provision criterion or practice which puts them at a particular disadvantage based on one of the unlawful grounds.

We therefore have an expectation that Members will not discriminate against our staff or other AD Guild members on grounds of any protected characteristic in breach of these equality principles.

3. Anti-Harassment and Bullying

Harassment may be considered as unwanted conduct, related to a protected characteristic, which may violate a person's dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating environment for them. Harassment may be an isolated occurrence or repetitive; it may occur against one or more individuals. Harassment may be, but is not limited to:

  • Physical contact – ranging from touching to serious assault, gestures, intimidation, aggressive behaviour.
  • Verbal – unwelcome remarks, suggestions and propositions, malicious gossip, inappropriate jokes and banter, offensive language.
  • Non-verbal – offensive literature or pictures, graffiti and computer imagery, isolation or non-co-operation and exclusion or isolation from social activities.

Sexual harassment is related to a persons protected characteristic such as sex, sexual orientation or gender reassignment and it occurs when an individual engages in unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. This may include using inappropriate language, making suggestive gestures, touching, sexually explicit jokes and the invasion of personal space. The unwanted conduct can be considered sexual harassment even if the conduct is not directly targeted a specific person or even if the harasser did not intend for it to be.

Bullying is unlikely to be a single or isolated instance. It is usually, but not exclusively repeated and persistent behaviour which is offensive, abusive, intimidating, malicious or insulting. Bullying includes but is not limited to:

  • Conduct which is intimidating, physically abusive or threatening
  • Conduct that denigrates, ridicules, or humiliates an individual, especially in front of colleagues.
  • Picking on one person when there is a common problem.
  • Shouting at an individual to get things done.
  • Consistently undermining someone and their ability to do the job.
  • Cyber bullying, i.e., bullying via email or social media.

Harassment and bullying may be considered as any behaviour that is inappropriate, overbearing and unwanted by the person to whom it is directed. It is the impact of the behaviour rather than the intent of the perpetrator that is the determinant as to whether harassment or bullying has occurred.

We have an expectation that Members will not behave in a manner towards our staff or other AD Guild members which is calculated to or likely to give rise to an individual feeling harassed or bullied by the perpetrator.

4. Breach of this policy

If there is an alleged breach of this policy by a member of AD Guild, AD Guild reserves the right to follow the disciplinary procedure set out in the membership agreement.

Any complaints by a member relating to any member of AD Guild staff will be dealt with under our complaints procedure and other appropriate internal procedures will also be followed.

5. Disciplinary Action

If a Member experiences what they believe to be harassment, bullying or and intimidating behaviour, all complaints should be made to These allegations will be treated seriously and confidentially through the AD Guild’s disciplinary procedure set out below.

6. Disciplinary Procedure

AD Guild has the right to review behaviour that is in breach of the Terms.

This may include a formal procedure handled objectively by the Membership Disputes committee which may result in termination of membership by AD Guild UK’s board of directors (subject to the Member’s right to appeal).

Investigation will be made by the Membership Disputes Committee and shall include:

  • A prompt, thorough and impartial response;
  • Taking evidence from witnesses;
  • Listening to both the alleged harasser and the complainant’s version of events;
  • A time-scale for resolving the problem;
  • Confidentiality in the majority of cases.

If, following investigation, AD Guild decides to start a formal disciplinary process, the Member in question will be informed of the issues in writing and invited to a formal meeting to discuss the matter further.

The Member will receive an invitation letter to the formal meeting, at least 5 working days in advance, which will:

  • Advise them of the purpose of the hearing, the date, time and either the venue or a link for a video call;
  • Provide information about the alleged misconduct;
  • Advise who will attend the meeting;
  • Provide all relevant information that is to be used at the meeting including the investigation report, any written evidence, witness statements taken as part of the investigation and a copy of the disciplinary procedure.

During the meeting, the Member will have the opportunity to:

  • Set out their case and answer any allegations;
  • Ask questions;
  • Put forward their own evidence.

The Member will have the opportunity to state their case before any disciplinary sanctions are decided on. All decisions will be reached following a full and fair review of the evidence and based on the balance of probabilities.

Following the conclusion of the meeting, the Member will be notified of the outcome. This will be confirmed in writing, usually within 5 working days or as soon as possible and will include:

  • details of the misconduct that has resulted in the disciplinary action;
  • the disciplinary sanction;
  • the dates this will be applied from;
  • any actions required to prevent future disciplinary action;
  • the consequence of not carrying out these actions
  • details of the appeal process (see section 5 for further details);
  • and, if relevant, the length of time the sanction will remain in place.

7. Appeals

A Member may appeal against any disciplinary action taken against them if they feel that:

  • the disciplinary sanction is unreasonable given all the circumstances and evidence considered;
  • the correct procedure was not followed during the formal stage and this has had a significant effect on the outcome;
  • the Member has new evidence to show which they were unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process, and which would have had a significant effect on the outcome of the formal stage.

The Member may submit an appeal within one week of the date that they receive the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. The Member should do this in writing to the Board, setting out the reasons for appealing the decision.

If the Board decides that there are grounds for appeal, an appeal hearing will take place as soon as possible, and without unreasonable delay. This will usually be within two weeks of the Member’s appeal being received.

Appeals will be heard by a panel who have had no previous involvement in the case and will normally consist of at least one Director of the Board and a Senior Manager.

The appeal panel may:

  • uphold the original decision;
  • vary or modify the original decision but should not usually impose a penalty greater than that decided during the disciplinary process; or
  • overturn the original decision.

All decisions will be confirmed in writing within one week, or as soon as possible and without unreasonable delay. The decision of the appeal panel is final.