Sectarianism Is 'Live Issue'

2 June 2015, 05:00

A conference aimed at tackling sectarianism in the workplace will be held in Edinburgh today.

he Beyond Religion and Belief conference is the first national event of its kind to look at the issue.

It is being hosted by anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth and Edinburgh City Council, which became the first local authority to offer dedicated anti-sectarian training to its staff.

The conference, at Edinburgh City Chambers, will focus on how to recognise and respond to instances of sectarianism in the workplace, including an in-depth look at the impact of employees' social media activities on employers' reputations and the workplace environment.

The event comes days after the publication of the final report of the Scottish Government's Advisory Group on Sectarianism, which highlighted the problem of online sectarianism.

Nil by Mouth launched its Beyond Religion & Belief workplace training scheme in 2011 and since then more than 70 employers and 3,500 staff have taken part.

Nil by Mouth campaign director Dave Scott said: "Sectarianism is a live issue in Scotland and it's important that employers have a proper understanding and feel equipped to deal with it if, and when, it arises.

"Since launching our workplace programme we have received requests for advice and assistance from employers and staff across a range of professions and seen examples of sectarian attitudes right across the employment spectrum - from the boardroom to the building site.

"This can range from people being overlooked for promotion or overtime to the subtler forms such as access codes for communal staff areas being set to contentious dates.

"In extreme cases we have seen staff being the victims of verbal or even physical assaults."

He added: "People should be able to work free from fear or harassment and we want to use this conference as an opportunity to focus employers' minds on how they can best tackle any issues they encounter on both a day-to-day and policy level.

"We have developed workshops and resources which help employers identify, discuss and deal with issues related to sectarianism.

"The message must go out loud and clear: Sectarianism has no place in a 21st-century workplace."