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Bullying Left Out Of 2018 Annual Report

Marc Phelt made this Official Information request to Callaghan Innovation

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From: Marc Phelt

Dear Callaghan Innovation,

Callaghan claims no formal complaints of bullying in 2018 Annual Report, but responded to an OIA request for the same period stating 3 personal grievances involving bullying.

Request under The Official Information Act, 1982

I request the following information regarding this matter:
• A written statement of Callaghan Innovation’s reasons for not including the 3 reported instances of bullying in the 2018 Annual Report, which Callaghan has already acknowledged were received over the same period in a prior OIA response.
• Who in the Executive Leadership Team had the final signoff on the content of the harassment and bullying prevention section of the Annual Report?
• Who made the decision not to report these cases of bullying in the 2018 Annual Report.
• All correspondence, notes and information compiled in relation to the preparation and subsequent approval of the content of the ‘Harassment and Bullying Prevention’ section.

Yours faithfully,

Marc Phelt

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From: Ministerial Services
Callaghan Innovation

Hi Marc,

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your official information request dated 5 November 2018 for information on figures in our 2018 Annual Report on formal complaints of bullying..

We will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible and in any event no later than 3 December 2018, being 20 working days after the day your request was received. If we are unable to respond to your request by then, we will notify you of an extension of that timeframe.

Kind regards
Ministerial services

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From: Ministerial Services
Callaghan Innovation


Attachment Email correspondence.pdf
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Dear Marc,

 

I refer to your official information request dated 5 November 2018 for
information on personal grievances involving bullying in our 2018 Annual
Report.

 

- A written statement of Callaghan Innovation’s reasons for not including
the 3 reported instances of bullying in the 2018 Annual Report, which
Callaghan has already acknowledged were received over the same period in a
prior OIA response.

At the time the Annual Report was written, none of the bullying complaints
had been substantiated. To be clearer, the Annual Report could have said,
“we have had no substantiated formal complaints about bullying.”

 

- Who in the Executive Leadership Team had the final signoff on the
content of the harassment and bullying prevention section of the Annual
Report?

The 2018 Annual Report was approved by Chief Executive of Callaghan
Innovation.

 

- Who made the decision not to report these cases of bullying in the 2018
Annual Report.

We are refusing your request under section 18(e) of the Official
Information Act 1982 as the information does not exist. 

 

- All correspondence, notes and information compiled in relation to the
preparation and subsequent approval of the content of the ‘Harassment and
Bullying Prevention’ section.

Please see attached the email correspondence in relation to the
preparation and approval of the ‘Harassment and Bullying Prevention’
section in the 2018 Annual Report. Redactions have been made under Section
9(2)(a) to protect the privacy of natural persons and to remove
information that is out of scope to the request.

 

You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of
this decision. Information about how to make a complaint is available at
[1]www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or freephone 0800 802 602.

 

Kind regards

Ministerial Services

 

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From: Marc Phelt

Dear Ministerial Services,

You have confirmed that the “Harassment and Bullying Prevention” section of your Annual Report is factually incorrect. Your organisation is legally required to report its compliance with its obligation to be a “good employer” in its Annual Report under the Crown Entities Act (s151(1)(g)), and this is one of the seven key elements of being a “good employer”. As such, please advise how you propose to correct this material error in your 2018 Annual Report.

As you know, there is a material difference between reporting the number of bullying complaints that have been formally reported and reporting the number of bullying complaints that have been “substantiated”. The below diagram from the State Services Commission shows that these stages are four steps apart in the formal investigatory process:
______________________________
Option 3: Formal Complaint

- A complaint is made to the complainant's Manager, Human Resources or Chief Executive

- Decision to proceed to formal investigation

- A formal investigation is carried out in accordance with this policy

- Complaint substantiated or not

(http://www.ssc.govt.nz/sexual-harassment...)
______________________________

By changing your annual reporting standard to include only “substantiated” complaints about bullying, Callaghan Innovation appears to be minimising the true extent of bullying within the organisation.

It is recognised that the public sector is incentivised to “contain” complaints or find that complaints are unsubstantiated or unfounded so as to reduce the prospect of legal liability and protect their public image (James, 2015). Tactics that may be used by such organisations to protect their public image include deliberate use of nuanced wording in formal reports to obscure facts, and manipulating investigations (both internal and external) to ensure the likelihood of an outcome in their favour. James (2015) states, ‘… many public service agencies’ procedures either lack necessary detail or their preliminary inquiry/investigation processes have shortfalls, which bring into question their legitimacy.’ James (2015) goes on to explain how these procedural ‘shortfalls’ are ‘… more of a strategic design to simply protect the agencies’ interest.’

For example, I brought your attention to the clear statement in your 2018 Annual Report that Callaghan Innovation had NO formal complaints about bullying. In my opinion, this is a blatant lie which paints your organisation in a good light. You now claim this ‘could’ read ‘We have had no substantiated formal complaints about bullying’, a slight alteration and nuance of wording which continues to paint Callaghan Innovation in a good light. The more accurate, factual and neutral response would be, ‘We have had 3 formal complaints of bullying’. I believe the SSC process and material differences between your two statements as illustrated at the top of this communication, as well as reading James’ statements above on internal and external bullying investigations, brings into sharp focus the reasons for your suggested alteration. It would appear to me that even your suggested alteration of the initial statement is nothing but a cynical attempt to further obscure the truth.

As a further request for information under the OIA, please advise for each of the past five reporting years:

1. How many informal complaints of bullying has Callaghan Innovation received;
2. How many formal complaints of bullying has Callaghan Innovation received;
3. In relation to each complaint of bullying, did Callaghan conduct an internal or external investigation, or not investigate at all;
4. In relation to each investigated complaint of bullying, which internal business unit or external company/contractor undertook the investigation;
5. In relation to each complaint of bullying, was the complaint of bullying substantiated, unsubstantiated or partially substantiated;
6. In relation to each complaint of bullying, what action did Callaghan Innovation take to prevent further bullying from occurring and/or to prevent further behaviours from occurring that are perceived as bullying;
7. In relation to each investigated complaints of bullying, how long did the complainant remain employed by Callaghan Innovation after the conclusion of the investigation (for contractor complainants, how long did they remain contracted to CI after the conclusion of the investigation). If the complainant is still employed or left CI’s employment during the investigation then CI’s response to this question should make this fact explicit;
8. In relation to each investigated complaint of bullying, how long did the alleged bully remain employed by Callaghan Innovation after the conclusion of the investigation. If the alleged bully is still employed or left CI’s employment during the investigation then CI’s response to this question should make this fact explicit.

Yours sincerely,

Marc Phelt

Reference:
James. J. (2015). Bad Behaviour in the Public Service: A Guide to Dealing with Workplace Bullying, Harassment, Victimisation and Discrimination in Public Service Agencies (1st ed.). Critical Social Work Publishing House

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From: Ministerial Services
Callaghan Innovation

Dear Marc,

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your official information request dated 9 December 2018 for additional information on bullying and harassment cases in the past 5 years.

We will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible and in any event no later than 28 January 2019, being 20 working days after the day your request was received. If we are unable to respond to your request by then, we will notify you of an extension of that timeframe.

Kind regards
Ministerial services

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From: Ministerial Services
Callaghan Innovation

Dear Marc,

 

I refer to your official information request dated 9 December 2018 for
additional information on bullying and harassment cases in the past 5
years.

 

Please see below our responses to your questions:

 

 1. How many informal complaints of bullying has CI received?

Callaghan Innovation is committed to ensuring we have a safe working
environment free of bullying for all employees.  Where there have been
discussions with employees who have raised possible bullying, the matter
is brought to the attention of the People and Capability team.

 

The process is to meet with the individual and their manager (or another
appropriate person if the alleged bully is the person’s manager) to
discuss these concerns and identify whether further investigation is
required.  In this context we have defined bullying as “repeated or
unreasonable behaviour directed towards a person or group that is
persistent and can involve a range of actions”.

 

In the 2017/18 financial year we have had two discussions with individuals
that have informally raised bullying.  In relation to each matter,
Callaghan Innovation met with the individual to ascertain the situation
and it was agreed that neither situation fell within the definition of
bullying.  Neither employee wanted to take their complaint further.  In
these situations, Callaghan Innovation offered EAP and facilitated
conversations to support to the complainant and the alleged bully have
more positive working relationship.

 

We did not receive any informal complaints in the years ending 30 June
2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.

 

 2. How may formal complaints of bullying has Callaghan Innovation
received?

As previously provided in your initial OIA request, Callaghan Innovation
has received three (3) formal complaints of bullying during the year
ending 30 June 2018.  We did not receive any formal complaints in the
years ending 30 June 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014.

 

 3. In relation to each complaint of bullying, did Callaghan Innovation
conduct an internal or external investigation, or not investigate at
all?

Each formal complaint of bullying received in the year ending 30 June 2018
has been investigated by an external party.  There have not been
complaints to investigate in the four previous financial years.

 

 4. In relation to each investigated complaint of bullying, which internal
business unit or external company / contractor undertook the
investigation?

All three (3) formal complaints of bullying received in the year ending 30
June 2018 were investigated by Rees-Thomas Law Ltd.

 

 5. In relation to each complaint of bullying was the complaint of
bullying substantiated, unsubstantiated or partially substantiated?

All three (3) situations where external investigations were carried out
based on formal complaints of bullying, all three (3) complaints resulted
in findings that the allegations of bullying were not substantiated.

 

 6. In relation to each complaint of bullying, what action did Callaghan
Innovation take to prevent bullying from occurring and / or to prevent
further behaviours from occurring that are perceived as bullying?

Callaghan Innovation does not condone bullying or any behaviours that
constitutes bullying. The organisation has a Preventing and Responding to
Bullying, Harassment and Unlawful Discrimination Policy which applies to
all employees, secondeees, contractors, board members and people in the
workplace and outlines the process for raising and addressing allegations
of bullying.

 

In situations where bullying is alleged but not substantiated Callaghan
Innovation has offered EAP, initiated team building activities and/or
offered other assistance such as facilitated conversations, to enable
working relationship to become more positive.  We have also invested in
our leadership cohort in developing skills to assist managers in the
proactive identification of working relationships where there may be
potential challenges through development programmes focused on managers as
coaches and emotional intelligence.

 

 7. In relation to each investigated complaint of bullying, how long did
the complainant remain employed by Callaghan Innovation after the
conclusion of the investigate. If the complainant is still employed or
left Callaghan Innovation’s employment during the investigation, then
Callaghan Innovation’s response to this question should make this fact
explicit.

Instance 1 – Bullying allegations were raised, and the investigation
undertaken in February 2018. The complainant remained employed by
Callaghan Innovation through the process of investigating this allegation
and later resigned.

 

Instance 2 & 3  – Bullying allegations were raised and investigated in
November 2017. Allegations of bullying were not substantiated. Both
employees left the organisation at a later date as a result of an
unrelated change process.

 

The actual dates of individuals’ resignation are being withheld under
section 9(2)(a) of the Official Information Act 1982 to protect their
privacy.

 

 8. In relation to each investigated complaint of bullying, how long did
the alleged bully remain employed by Callaghan Innovation after the
conclusion of the investigation. If the alleged bully is still
employed or left Callaghan Innovation’s employment during the
investigation, then Callaghan Innovation’s response to this question
should make this fact explicit.

All individuals that were the subject of formal allegations of bullying
remain employed at Callaghan Innovation. Given all three (3) formal
complaints resulted in findings that bullying was not substantiated no
further action was taken by Callaghan Innovation in relation to these
individuals.  Callaghan Innovation has an active development leadership
programme which aims to develop skills to assist managers in the proactive
identification of working relationships where there may be potential
challenges.  This includes managers as coaches and emotional intelligence.

 

You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman
of  this decision. Information about how to make a complaint is available
at [1]www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or freephone 0800 802 602.

 

Kind regards

Ministerial Services

 

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