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Index > Operations Policies > Respect in the Workplace Policy

Respect in the Workplace Policy


RISD is committed to maintaining a working environment that encourages mutual respect, promotes collaborative relationships among faculty and staff, and is free from all forms of harm which may be caused by disrespectful behavior. RISD seeks to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of the community, of all backgrounds and identities. In support of its Mission and Values, RISD recognizes its responsibility to be a model of fairness and equal opportunity, providing intellectual and institutional leadership regarding issues of respectful behavior. RISD values a classroom, studio and campus environment that advances principles of social equity and inclusion, environmental and climate justice, and equal access to resources and opportunities.

This policy is not related to claims of discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, national origin, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law in employment. Workplace interactions that do not rise to the level of discrimination, but still constitute disrespectful behavior, threats, or interpersonal hostility, may be addressed by this policy.

A statement of opinion, expressed in a respectful manner, that does not intimidate an individual or demean a person’s character, is not a violation of this policy. Determination of whether particular conduct or behavior violated this policy is made on a case-by-case basis, in light of the known facts and circumstances. RISD may take action on behavior deemed inappropriate, regardless of whether it rises to the level of a violation of law.


This policy applies to all staff, faculty, and volunteers or others working on behalf of the College who have a responsibility in creating a respectful workplace. A complaint may be brought by the College, by an employee of the College or student about the conduct of an employee. Complaints based on conduct of students are not within the scope of this policy, but addressed by Student Life under RISD's Code of Student Conduct.


Bullying is interpersonal hostility that is deliberate, repeated and sufficiently severe as to harm the targeted person’s health and well-being, safety, or economic status. It is unrelated to any legitimate work-related need. Employees should note that a reasonable and lawful decision by management in relation to performance management, disciplinary action, allocation of work, or implementing organizational change does not constitute bullying.

Violence whether on-campus or at a college-related event means the threatened, attempted, or actual conduct of a person that causes, or is likely to cause, imminent physical injury. These acts include threats, menacing or threatening behavior, and all types of physical or verbal assaults.

Workplace is defined as any space, physical or virtual, where the College’s work takes place. This includes, but may not be limited to: the office, Slack or other messaging applications, email, social media, messaging, texting, phone calls, work travel locations, social functions, seminars and conferences, or functions that you attend hosted by others on behalf of RISD.


A fair, inclusive and respectful community is vital to all individuals and is essential to our mission and institutional excellence. RISD embraces the concept of a Respectful Workplace and is committed to promoting an environment where employees demonstrate respect toward each other regardless of their roles, seniority or positional authority.

Respect for the rights, dignity, and integrity of others is essential for the wellbeing of the RISD community. Actions that make the atmosphere intimidating, threatening, or hostile to individuals are therefore regarded as serious offenses. Abusive, violent, or bullying behavior, whether verbal or physical or through the use of electronic means, which demeans, intimidates, threatens, or injures another is subject to corrective action. Making tolerance of or submission to such behavior a condition of employment, evaluation, compensation, or advancement is a particularly serious offense. The College reserves the right to review the conduct or behavior under other applicable College policies or in conjunction with the appropriate office.

Examples of Respectful Behavior

Every RISD employee has the right to work in a respectful workplace. In order to promote and sustain a workplace where all employees are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their position, each employee is expected to abide by these standards of conduct and respectful communication:

  • Respecting and valuing the contributions of all members of our community, regardless of their position in the institution;
  • Treating others with respect and resolving conflicts effectively and collegially;
  • Actively listening and engaging with others for input; seek clarification to deepen understanding;
  • Demonstrating openness to new ideas, respecting the views and opinions of others;
  • Respecting the needs, views and expectations of students, members of the general public and others who study, work, or visit RISD;
  • Treating RISD community members across all group memberships, perspectives, and circumstances, with respect, fairness, and dignity;
  • Recognizing the full breadth of differences among all community members, and work collaboratively to create an inclusive campus environment;
  • Abiding by guidelines, regulations and policies and addressing any dissatisfaction with, or violation of, policies and procedures through appropriate channels;
  • Demonstrating commitment to continuous growth and development in support of a fair and inclusive community;
  • Respecting the property and personal interests of everyone, including those of RISD itself.

RISD leadership defines expectations for how employees treat each other, holds individuals accountable for their behaviors, and is responsive to complains when they are brought forward.

Examples of Disrespectful Behavior

Consistent with this and other relevant college policies, all RISD employees are expected to refrain from disrespectful behavior. Examples of disrespectful behavior can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Using threatening or abusive language, profanity or language that is intended to be, or is reasonably perceived to be, demeaning, berating, rude, threatening, intimidating, or offensive;
  • Engaging in bullying or hazing;
  • Microaggressions or commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups;
  • Making threats of violence, retribution, litigation, or financial harm; shouting or engaging in other speech, conduct or mannerisms that are reasonably perceived to represent intimidation or harassment;
  • Using racial or ethnic slurs; demonstrating racial, gender, sexual orientation, or cultural bias;
  • Making or telling denigrating jokes that are intended to be, or that are perceived by others to be, crude or offensive; teasing, name calling, ridicule or making someone the brunt of pranks or practical jokes;
  • Using epithets, slurs or stereotyping;
  • Distributing or displaying electronic or written materials or messages that are abusive, profane, threatening, defamatory or offensive material within the RISD workplace
  • Making unwanted or threatened inappropriate physical contact;
  • Throwing tools, office equipment, or objects as an expression of anger, criticism, or threat, or in an otherwise disrespectful or abusive manner;
  • Making comments or engaging in behavior that is untruthful or directed as a personal attack on the professional conduct of others.

Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies may be subject to educational instruction or disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment, in accordance with applicable disciplinary procedures.


Faculty, staff, and others working on behalf of RISD are encouraged to bring any incident of unacceptable workplace behavior forward, whether they were involved, were a witness, or the incident was brought to their attention.

Managers, leaders and all other employees in supervisory positions are responsible for taking prompt, appropriate preventative actions to stop unacceptable workplace behavior of which they are aware, and reporting incidents of unacceptable workplace behavior to Human Resources.

RISD Human Resources promotes and supports faculty and staff in fostering a workplace free from unacceptable workplace behavior, trains and supports supervisors/managers in carrying out their duties in relation to this policy, communicates this policy to employees, and makes or facilitates decisions related to the complaint process, which may include the implementation of corrective action.


Complaint resolution options

Reporting parties have options when it comes to resolving an allegation. Community members who believe they have experienced or observed conduct that is covered under this policy or who otherwise have concerns about such matters are strongly encouraged to initiate steps that will stop the behavior and prevent its recurrence.

Self-management is when the reporting party deals directly with the respondent (the person who has said or done the offending action). If you feel safe to do so, you can politely but firmly let the respondent know their behavior is unwelcome. Reporting parties are encouraged to self-advocate when possible and work towards a resolution they feel comfortable addressing.

If you choose self-management, remember:

-Stay calm, polite, and respectful. This is about the facts and moving forward.

-Describe the behavior or action that impacted you plainly and using facts only.

-Describe the effect the behavior or action had on you.

-Make a clear request for what you need - for example, the behavior to stop or a decision to be reviewed.

-Ask for an agreement, acknowledgement, or time frame from the respondent.

-Remember that many behaviors or actions are not intended to harm, so do your best to leave room for the possibility of a misunderstanding or miscommunication.

RISD recognizes that not all individuals will be able to self-manage in every instance nor will every person be comfortable to advocate on their own behalf. Those situations may require greater support.

Informal support is when the reporting party asks their manager or Human Resources to be involved in the resolution conversation either with the reporting party or directly with the respondent. This third party offers support with their presence if the reporting party does not feel comfortable completely self-managing and, when asked, can help informally mediate.

The goal of the informal support process is to come up with a resolution and to move forward, not to prove something actually happened. Informal approaches work best for less serious offences, when the respondent has admitted to the behavior in question, and/or when non-disciplinary outcomes are the most appropriate.

Formal investigations are for when self-management or the informal approach does not resolve the issue or is not appropriate. This step is when Human Resources conducts an investigation. Human Resources may conduct formal investigations in circumstances where the severity of the allegation does not warrant a self-management or informal support process.

The investigator will interview all involved parties: reporting party, respondent, and any witnesses. All those interviewed will have the right to review their own statements for accuracy.

The investigator will prepare a summary including the description of the allegations, the response from the respondent, a summary of information collected by witnesses (if applicable). Human Resources or a panel assembled to review the findings and will make a decision about whether unacceptable workplace behavior did occur based on evidence and the recommended course(s) of action in accordance with applicable disciplinary procedures.

Claims related to allegations of discriminatory or harassing behavior on the basis of the protected classes should be made with the Office of Institutional Discrimination + Title IX.

Complaints related to discriminatory harassment can be reported here and complaints related to Title IX and Sexual Misconduct can be reported here.

Revision history

This policy was created on: January, 2022

Next scheduled review: January, 2023


Issuing Office

Human Resources

Responsible Officer

Vice President for Human Resources

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director, Employment

General Counsel