Respectful Workplace Policy

Purpose & Scope

We deeply care about Benchmates[1]. In all we do, we Keep it Human[2]: we practice empathy, listen (like, really listen), maintain compassion, and have open, real conversations. This (and so much more) is what it is to be a Benchmate. Our commitment is to consciously build a work environment that fosters leadership, growth, and impact for all Benchmates—let's call it our “Respectful Workplace”. In being this way, we are committed to creating a work environment that is free from discrimination, bullying, harassment, and violence of any kind.

1 Benchmates include all employees, directors, and contractors of 10 Sheet Services Inc., (acting under the name Bench), as well as independent contractors who contract with Bench Accounting, Inc.

2 Check out our principles in the Bench Culture Guide

The purpose of this Policy is to provide guidelines for:

1. How to uphold our Principles to maintain a Respectful Workplace and call out Inappropriate Behavior that we do not stand for.

2. How to respond when we experience or observe Inappropriate Behaviour so that we can take action to eliminate it.

3. Learning and growth opportunities for those who engage in Inappropriate Behavior, and to spread the principles embodied in our Respectful Workplace within Bench and beyond. If this is not possible, we may take more severe action to preserve our Respectful Workplace.

Our Respectful Workplace Policy includes how Benchmates interact with each other as well as how clients and other external parties interact with Benchmates and vice versa. This Policy covers work-related interactions between Benchmates and with our clients and other external parties whether they occur on Bench premises, online, or at off-site work-related functions. Additionally, we may take into account and review allegations of behavior that occur outside the course of employment, to the extent permitted by law, where we determine such conduct is not aligned to the spirit of our Respectful Workplace.

What is Inappropriate Behavior?

At Bench, you will be supported by those around you. And in turn, we support those around us. It’s part of living out our Be Responsible principle. When we hold ourselves and our colleagues accountable for our actions, we collectively Take A Stand for our Respectful Workplace. We hold ourselves to a high standard and expect our workplace interactions to be respectful. We do not tolerate discrimination, bullying, harassment, violence, or any Inappropriate Behavior of any kind. Inappropriate Behavior are actions, statements, or ways of being which are not aligned to the actions which create our Respectful Workplace. The following is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but should help you understand what types of conduct we consider Inappropriate Behavior:

Personal Harassment

We retain a human approach in everything we do, at every level of the business. That includes how we interact with Benchmates, clients, vendors, couriers, cleaning staff, and everyone else we come into contact with at Bench. We take action that lifts others up, and create the space for others to do the same for us. Personal Harassment includes comments, displays, actions, or gestures by a Benchmate, client, or external stakeholder towards another that are known (or ought reasonably to be known) to cause offence, humiliation, or intimidation. It is not aligned with how we show up in our Respectful Workplace. This conduct can be repetitive or it can be a single occurrence that has a lasting, harmful effect.

Examples of conduct that may constitute Personal Harassment include:

  • Verbal: derogatory comments, slurs, gossip, ridicule, yelling, offensive jokes, abusive comments
  • Visual: posters, cartoons, drawings, gestures or displays, clothing, notes, emails that include threatening or discriminatory content
  • Physical: unwelcome contact, blocking movements, physical abuse or injury, destruction of Bench or personal property
  • Threats or demands: suggestions or statements that imply certain conduct needs to be accepted or engaged in in order to protect their safety, employment, or the benefits of a position
  • Bullying: intentional, persistent attempts to intimidate, demean, torment, control, mentally or physically harm, or isolate another person

Discriminatory Harassment & Unfair Treatment

We Take A Stand for the equal dignity of folks of all identities and Personal Characteristics and a Respectful Workplace where differences are acknowledged and valued, not ignored or simply tolerated. We view diversity as a strength and believe in the importance of particularly ensuring Benchmates with underrepresented or marginalized identities and characteristics experience belonging.

Discriminatory Harassment is a type of harassment directed at a person, or a group, based on their Personal Characteristics. Personal Characteristics include—but are not limited to—race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, disability, genetic characteristics, self expression, and a conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended.

Unfair Treatment encompasses institutionalized discrimination. It is discrimination that presents as patterned inactivity or neglect and on the basis of Personal Characteristics.

Examples of Discriminatory Harassment may include:

  • Offensive remarks
  • Racist or other discriminatory language, slurs, derogatory comments and stereotypes
  • Telling racist, sexist, ethnic, or other discriminatory jokes that are embarrassing or offensive in nature
  • Threats or abuse based on Personal Characteristics
  • The posting, display, or distribution of cartoons, posters, graffiti, books or pamphlets aimed at a particular person or group of people based on Personal Characteristics

Examples of Unfair Treatment may include:

  • Being overlooked for learning and development opportunities, role promotions, compensation increases, and/or other growth opportunities otherwise afforded colleagues in similar positions as yourself
  • Being consistently excluded, ignored or silenced in meetings and discussions
  • Patterned favoritism towards colleagues in similar positions as yourself that consistently exclude you
  • Being consistently singled out for certain tasks or responsibilities that make assumptions about your Personal Characteristics rather than your capabilities. (This example is intended to highlight stereotypes with positive intent but harmful impacts, like believing women are better at note-taking, providing emotional counsel or a nurturing environment, performing domestic tasks, etc.)

Sexual Harassment

Bench is a concentrated group of smart, ambitious people. And smart, ambitious people often like other smart, ambitious people. We do not intend to constrain consensual relationships. But there are ways of being that we do not stand for which fall outside of consensual social interactions.

Sexual Harassment is a type of harassment that includes any unwelcome comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature, and any conduct that reasonably leads to the perception that a condition of a sexual nature is being placed on a Benchmate’s employment, work status, or opportunities at Bench.

The following are examples of specific conduct that may constitute Sexual Harassment:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances, such as sexually suggestive written or verbal communications or obscene gestures
  • Unwanted physical contact or physical proximity, such as touching, massaging, grabbing, unnecessarily close hovering over or near, or ogling
  • Repeatedly asking another employee on a date when they have indicated they are not interested
  • Displays of pornographic or sexually explicit or suggestive pictures or drawings
  • Referring to or calling a person a sexually suggestive name Telling sexual jokes or using sexually vulgar or explicit language Questioning someone about their sex life

    As we said, this Policy is not intended to constrain consensual social interactions. But please keep in mind that though your intimate communication or gesture may be acceptable to one person, it could also make others around you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Bench’s Responsibility

It is the responsibility of each Benchmate, client, and external stakeholder to comply with this Policy. In doing so we create our Respectful Workplace—it’s part of us living our Be Responsible principle.

  • It is the responsibility of all Benchmates to: Lead by example
  • Not engage in Inappropriate Behavior and, if safe to do so, help stop it when it occurs
  • Immediately report to:
    • Their direct manager, The People Team[3] or Legal any complaints or concerns that they have or become aware of concerning Inappropriate Behavior from a Benchmate toward another
    • The Client Success Team of any complaints or concerns that they have or become aware of concerning Inappropriate Behavior from a client or external stakeholder toward a Benchmate
  • Cooperate in any investigation
  • Maintain confidentiality with respect to any investigation or knowledge of any incident and, subject to fulfilling your duty to report any incident, assist with any investigation and carry out any follow-up action

It is the responsibility of all clients and external stakeholders of Bench to:

  • Not engage in Inappropriate Behavior
  • Report incidents of Inappropriate Behavior by a Benchmate towards a client or external stakeholder to the Bench Client Success Team

3 The Head of People, the Manager of People and Performance, and the Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are designated to receive this information.

How Inappropriate Behavior is Reported and Addressed

We are committed to taking action that fosters and upholds our Respectful Workplace. This includes addressing instances of Inappropriate Behavior. The processes we follow to address Inappropriate Behavior by a Benchmate and by a client or external stakeholder are:

Inappropriate Behavior between Benchmates

Step 1. If you encounter Inappropriate Behavior, other than violent behavior, from a fellow Benchmate, let that person know that the conduct is unwelcome. Only do this if you are comfortable expressing your objection directly.

Step 2. If you do not feel comfortable expressing an objection directly or if the conduct persists, promptly report the conduct to your manager. Only do this if you are comfortable expressing your objection to your manager. Depending on the nature and severity of the alleged conduct, your manager may first try to resolve the issue informally.

Step 3. If you do not feel comfortable expressing an objection to your manager or if the conduct persists, promptly report the conduct to the People Team. Only do this if you are comfortable expressing your objection to the People Team. You can share your objection verbally, in writing, or using our opt-out anonymous reporting line [4,5,6].

Step 4. If you do not feel comfortable expressing your objection to the People Team, promptly report the conduct to Legal.

If you experience violence from another Benchmate, report the incident to the police and when safe, please advise your Manager, the People Team and/or Legal, as applicable in your discretion given the circumstances.

All complaints and concerns of Inappropriate Behavior will be investigated in a prompt, fair, and impartial manner and as thoroughly as the circumstances require. The People Team, Legal, or if appropropriate an external party, will conduct an investigation taking into account all the available evidence, being sensitive to the interests of all parties involved and maintaining confidentiality to the extent possible. All documents relating to such investigations will be securely stored. All relevant parties to the investigation will be informed of the key findings.

The above procedure and any investigation carried out are intended to be flexible in order to respond to the specific circumstances at issue. We may engage in a different procedure if it better upholds the spirit of our Respectful Workplace and this Policy.

We cannot say it enough—creating our Respectful Workplace really matters. Benchmates who engage in Inappropriate Behavior or conduct that is not aligned with the spirit of fostering a Respectful Workplace will be subject to disciplinary action. This includes false allegations[7] and retaliation against a person for reporting an incident under this Policy. The action we take will be commensurate with the degree of seriousness of the Inappropriate Behavior —this includes discussion or training to more severe outcomes such as immediate termination of employment.

4 The anonymous reporting line here.
5 Objections are only accessible by the Head of People, the Manager of People and Performance, and the Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
6 The People Team is unable to conduct either an informal or formal investigation from an anonymous report. However, we still take anonymous reporting seriously. The information we collect here will inform how we train and educate Benchmates on Inappropriate Behavior on an ongoing basis.
7 No Benchmate will be disciplined for reporting a genuinely held suspicion of harassment, even if an investigation determines that the complaint is not supported or that there is no breach of this Policy.

Inappropriate Behavior between a Benchmate and a Client or External Stakeholder

Step 1. If you encounter Inappropriate Behavior from a client or external stakeholder, you should report the incident to the Client Success Team by submitting an Inappropriate Client Behavior ticket in Salesforce. When this case is created, Client Success Leadership will be notified and the case will be assigned to a Retention Team member.

Step 2. If the Client Success Team determines that the Inappropriate Behavior was a first time occurence and not overt, the client will be personally addressed about the incident and provided an opportunity to learn, and change their behavior.

Step 3. If the Client Success Team determines that the Inappropriate Behavior was a repeat occurrence by the same client or overt, Client Success Leadership will review the case and determine the course of action, which could include erminating the person as a Bench client[8].

For each report, the Client Success Team will share the action taken with the Benchmate who created the ticket, as well as record the action in Salesforce. In addition, high-level reporting[9] will be shared with all Benchmates on a monthly basis.

The above procedure and any investigation carried out are intended to be flexible in order to respond to the specific circumstances at issue. We reserve the right to engage in a different procedure as deemed appropriate in any given circumstance.

8 Bench is committed to completing any outstanding work and to providing the client with access to their records. Any further relationship with Bench will be terminated at that point.
9 All reports will be entirely anonymous, containing no distinguishing information about the Benchmate, client, or external stakeholder.

Our work here isn’t done.

Cultivating a Respectful Workplace is an ongoing initiative, and will be a Bench-wide effort. That means we want to hear from you. If you have feedback or questions about anything in this policy, please reach out directly to the People Team or our DEI Manager.

Don’t feel comfortable speaking up? Get in touch through our Anonymous Reporting Line here. Any feedback we receive will remain confidential, and will inform future policies and training.