Employers up and down the country set codes of conduct for their staff, making clear that bullying and harassment won't be tolerated  and rightly expect those standards to be upheld.  So when things go wrong and bullying and harassment takes place should the perpetrator always be removed?  What if you think the perpetrator is crucial to your future success?  In my experience, those organisations that have not acted on serious concerns because someone is seen as critical to the organisations success (or because they know where the skeletons are hidden) more often than not find it comes back to bite them.

There is undoubtedly a place for grace in the workplace, recognising that we all make mistakes and may at time be misunderstood or have not realised the impact of our behaviour.  A thorough investigation into bullying and harassment complaints will usually get to the bottom of whether there is genuine remorse, the ability to restore relationships and desire to learn for the future.  In those cases removal from post will be the wrong option. 

Those organisations that create a workplace culture where people are encouraged to feedback directly to colleagues and in particular to leaders to call out concerning behaviours will avoid bullying and harassment concerns escalating.  This can only happen where leaders are open to listening and to change.  In addition training leaders to recognise that they are no more important than those people who work for them and to deal with concerns effectively is crucial and can avoid the more serious cases arising at all.   

The quote from Priti Patel below echoes many accounts I have seen in bullying and harassment investigations.  Whether it is realistic in light of the evidence in the investigation we won't get to know for certain - unless this is allowed to play out before the Employment Tribunal in the claim issued by Sir Phillip Rutnam.  Getting the investigation right in any bullying or harassment case is important.  Has the investigator started with an open mind and set out to find all the evidence, not just the evidence in support of the allegations?  In Priti Patel's case the resignation of Sir Alex Allan suggests there is no problem with the quality of the investigation.

We will have to wait to see whether Boris Johnson's decision to back Priti Patel comes back to bite him but in the meantime employers up and down the country should stick to doing the right thing - setting the right culture, training and developing their people to behave appropriately, calling out bad behaviour, thoroughly investigating serious issues and where appropriate taking robust disciplinary decisions protecting the organisation for the long term.