An informal reporting scheme set up by London’s Old Vic to tackle inappropriate behaviour in the workplace is to be adopted by parliament.
The theatre established its guardians programme in 2018 following the claims of alleged sexual misconduct by former artistic director Kevin Spacey.
Under the scheme, staff are encouraged to raise concerns about workplace culture or inappropriate behaviour to a group of trained peers, as an alternative to individuals not wishing to follow more traditional reporting lines.
Together, the House of Commons and House of Lords will now implement their own version of the guardians programme, aimed at eradicating misconduct in Westminster and ensuring that staff feel “encouraged and supported to share experiences”.
An independent inquiry into inappropriate behaviour in Westminster, published last year, found reports of persistent bullying and sexual harassment among MPs and parliamentary staff, and called for more action to tackle the issue.
As part of signing up to the Old Vic’s programme, Parliament will also join the theatre’s guardians network, which sees member organisations meet three times a year for pro bono legal training and to share best practice.
The network already comprises more than 40 organisations including the Almeida Theatre, English National Ballet, the Society of London Theatre, Sheffield Theatres and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as well as companies outside the performing arts such as Coutts bank and Tate.
Old Vic executive director Kate Varah said the addition of parliament to the group represented “a strong recognition of the network’s ongoing success in taking an active stance to improve workplace behaviour”.
John Benger and Ed Ollard, Clerk of the House of Commons and Clerk of the Parliaments, respectively, said in a joint statement: “Both Houses of Parliament need a working environment where everyone can thrive, and a key part of that is learning from good practice elsewhere.
“Joining the Guardians Network will give everyone working across the parliamentary estate an additional source of support when facing issues of misconduct and help us reach our goal of making parliament an inclusive and supportive workplace.”
The programme will officially launch on January 30 with a call-out for staff to be trained as guardians. It is due to be implemented by May.