Member Since: 4th May 2006
Safia Boot MSc FCIPD – Founder of Respect at Work Limited. Operating as Workplace Investigator, Mediator, HR Consultant, Trainer, Coach/Mentor, Employee Relations and Diversity/Inclusion Specialist
I have a strong generalist HR background as well as significant experience in Employee Relations and Diversity/Inclusion. I am a serving as an ET Panel Member, National CIPD Disciplinary Chair, CIPD Chair for the successful Milton Keynes Group providing professional development for 1200 HR professionals. I am a skilled Workplace investigator/hearing manager and trusted advisor in complex discrimination/ER cases, helping organisations avoid expensive disputes. I have worked extensively in the public and private sector (e.g. Sony, Matthew Hall Engineering, Data Sciences/Thorn EMI). My clients have included various blue chip organisations such as Red Bull, Barclaycard, GSK, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (nor part of Pfizer), Cisco, Thomson Reuters, Verizon, etc. I also have significant public sector experience with various government departments, NHS Trusts, Birmingham City Council and various SME businesses. I am commercially focused and value driven HR professional.
Director/HR Consultant Respect at Work Limited
15th Oct 2012
Over the years as a HR professional I have often spoken up whenever I have seen unfair treatment and attempts to cover up but often been a lone voice. This was harder to do when in-house as any attempt to present a moral/ethical rather than pragmatic commercial perspective has been labelled as 'pink and fluffy' and lead to being marginalised and career prospects thwarted. One particular situation involved speaking up to support an employee after she reported allegations of fraudulent behaviour by her senior manager, which were not taken seriously. The manager simply denied any wrong doing when asked informally about it. His seniority compared to her's meant she was not believed and nothing was put in place to monitor the situation. The employee later experienced racial abuse within her team but due to her previous attempts to whistleblow her allocated HR Manager refused to take her allegations seriously, fearing falling out of favour with the senior manager who was the subject of the earlier whistleblowing attempt. The matter was instead escalated to raise counter-allegations against the employee of 'insubordination' for refusing to attend a meeting at which the same senior manager would be presiding. She was issued unfairly with a final warning and I was then asked to hear her appeal with the CEO. The employee and her TU representative approached me prior to the appeal hearing to seek assurance that the appeal hearing would be neutral and provided evidence of racial discrimination which had been rejected by my HR colleague who failed acknowledge her own unconscious bias as well as lacking the courage to challenge local management. The Senior Manager fearing I would overturn his earlier decision privately threatened me not to advise the CEO on this basis (which I refused to do) but when I attempted to bring balance to the appeal hearing I found the Manager had already lobbied the CEO who was more concerned to stand by his senior manager's earlier decision than judge the matter on the facts and keep an open mind. The CEO also used bullying tactics to intimidate me before the appeal hearing but during the hearing I did the best I could to allow the TU official to make his representations and took comprehensive notes of the hearing which the CEO did not approve me of doing as the notes showed the inherent bias and pre-judgement. When the appeal was not upheld the employee lodged an ET claim and the case was settled on the first day of the hearing as the TU Representative disclosed I was willing to appear as a witness. Since this incident I have preferred to work independently with organisations who truly want an independent, fair and evidenced based investigation, although it is an arena not without its own challenges.