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Social safety

Social Safety

All through our 25-year history, DIAB (Discrimination, Intimidation, Aggression and Bullying) has been an important theme during our trainings and interventions. Recently, because of social developments like #MeToo, BlackLivesMatter, it has gained momentum. Many of our partners know where to find us for help with this subject. A topic that often conjures up many emotions.


In our view, working towards a socially safe working environment is a precondition for a physically safe working environment.

If employees do not feel safe to speak their minds, they will not address each other in hazardous situations. This can lead to more injury or even fatality.


What is the difference between social safety and psychological safety?

“Social safety relates to everything you can do or organize to protect employees against unsafe actions from others. For example, reporting procedures of a code of conduct, confidential counselors, etcetera.


Psychological Safety relates to being able to be who you are at your work. It is about being able to admit mistakes and dare to share differing opinions. It also relates to receiving praise for who you are and what you do.”*

(*Amy Edmondson, Professor Leadership&Management, Harvard Business School)


Both are conditions for optimal performance, learning and collaborating.


Our trainings-approach focuses on 3 aspects: Structure, Mindset and skillset.



How is social safety ensured in your organization? Is this a task for HR or for everyone, and if so, is it already incorporated into the HR cycle? Consider the involvement of new employees or the creation of a code of conduct. Also, think about appointing confidential advisors and communicating the agreed-upon rules, Is there a procedure for hearing both sides, and what is the sanction policy?



Do employees and management feel engaged with the topic of social safety, and if not, is there a shared ambition to address it? Is this evident, for instance, from a recently conducted Employee Satisfaction Survey? How urgent is it to implement changes, and is the management willing tot take the lead in this effort?



How are the skills of the employees? Are they assertive enough and do they dare to speak up? Are they given the space to do so by their supervisors, and do those supervisors have the skills to create a safe culture?


In practice, there is an overlap between these three aspects. This overlap provides a great connection to incorporate all elements in a process to address or further ensure social safety within your organization. This can be done in many different ways. The working methods we use for this include:


·      Zero measurement/ Baseline measurements

·      Interviews

·      1 to 1 coaching

·      Team interventions

·      Organizational advice

·      Mindset-sessions, with tailor-made scenes where we mirror certain situations. These scenes are written so that there is maximum recognition and minimum traceability to where the input came from.

·      skillset sessions where we provide participants with tools to be assertive and to speak up while maintaining relationships

·      All insights gathered from the sessions are reported back anonymously to our client (the board, management). Together we determine the next steps.


At our ‘Social Safety’ network day in November 2023, one of our consultants, Selena Dolderer (lecturer at the University of Groningen) gave a presentation titled:

Psychological Safety: it is not just about being nice.

She provided the audience three take-aways:

·      Diverse teams are strong teams. However, they continuously require attention to interpersonal skills. Guilt and shame are often the reasons for not addressing each other or not reporting issues. Create an atmosphere where people dare to admit and learn from their ‘mistakes’.

·      Encourage each other to be curious to what makes the other person different then you.

·      Asking questions and engaging in conversation works better then retreating in subgroups out of fear to hurt one another.


Finally, there is no ‘quick fix’ for psychological safety. It is a continuous process. It requires tenacity and hard work. The gains can be enormous, a better working atmosphere, fewer people on sick leave, more applicants for recruitment and a better style of leadership. We are happy to help you move forward.

Want to know more? or 06 28785234



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