How to Create a Culture of Respect on Your Campus

Posted on 19 May 2016 |

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culture respect campusSexual harassment and discrimination on campuses is getting a lot of media buzz right now. And tackling these issues is a big priority for higher education institutions. Compliance experts agree that one of the most effective ways to address these issues is to create a culture of respect. By promoting respect, campus leaders can ensure that faculty, staff and administrators comply with Equal Employment Opportunity laws, as well as Title IX laws.

What Happens When People Don’t Feel Respected?

Eight in 10 employees say lack of respect in the workplace is a serious problem, and 60 percent believe it’s getting worse. One survey respondent wrote, “Workers at this agency are not appreciated and are always put down. We are made to feel worthless.”

In one study, more than 40 percent of Americans said they’ve experienced incivility at work. Another survey found that half of respondents had witnessed or been a victim of bullying on the job.

Today’s workforce isn’t willing to put up with it. Respect is one of the top five things employees look for when seeking a new job, the executive advisory firm CEB reports — and lack of respect is one of their top reasons for leaving.

Nearly three-fourths of workers cite “respectful treatment of all employees” as the number-one contributor to job satisfaction, and “trust between employees and senior management” comes in second on the list, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. In addition to minimizing the risk of discrimination charges, a respectful work environment promotes productivity and helps keep employees motivated and engaged.

6 Steps for Creating a Culture of Respect

A culture of respect isn’t something that can be enforced by implementing a policy or sending out a memo. It must be built from the ground up by leaders who are committed to treating everyone fairly.

Here are six secrets to cultivating a culture of respect in the workplace, according to Marciano and Bruce J. Avolio of the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business:

1. Be authentic. Reflect your campus’s values and principles in the way you conduct yourself, and become an advocate for transparency and justice.

2. Dispense recognition. Regularly thank co-workers and staff and acknowledge their contributions while also providing ongoing, supportive feedback on performance.

3. Treat people equally. Model respect by treating all people the same regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, size, age or country of origin. Implement policies and procedures fairly and consistently.

4. Empower people. Provide your faculty and staff with the tools, training, resources and information they need to succeed. Give employees ownership and a voice in their jobs, and invest in helping them reach their potential.

5. Build trust. Demonstrate thoughtfulness, empathy and kindness as well as faith in employees’ skills, abilities and decisions.

6. Sacrifice when needed. Show a willingness to sacrifice for the good of the campus when doing so contributes to everyone’s success.


Creating a culture of respect on your campus helps minimize the risk of harassment and discrimination. By fostering an atmosphere of respect among colleagues, your institution can ensure compliance with discrimination laws.

To learn more about how harassment and discrimination can affect your campus, download our latest eBook: How to Prevent Subtle Forms of Discrimination.

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