Respectful Work Environment

Policy Approve By
Scott McCallum, Superintendent
Policy Date (original policy date)
Policy Prepared By
Anne Baker, Human Resources Director
Policy Category


The purpose of this policy is to address respect, dignity and civility as an expectation in the workplace.


At the Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB), we believe one of the tenets of inclusion is creating a work environment anchored in respect, dignity and civility. This policy outlines WSSB’s firm commitment to ensuring a positive, healthy and professional work environment in which all people, irrespective of their position, are treated with respect, civility and dignity.

A truly respectful workplace requires the cooperation and support from each and every employee of WSSB. We all have a responsibility to set a positive example and behave in a manner that will not offend, embarrass or humiliate others. Sometimes our actions and behaviors, without intent, can offend others.  There may be a gap between intent and impact. In these situations, it is important that we own our behavior and work to build trust and respect in our relationships.  

Respectful behavior includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Engaging others with an open, collaborative and cooperative approach.
  • Valuing the diversity and the human rights of others regardless of their race, national or ethnic origin; color; religion; age; sex; sexual orientation, gender identity or expression; marital status; family status; veteran status; body shape/size; or any physical or mental disability.
  • Recognizing the dignity of a person through courteous conduct.
  • Committing to learn and develop an understanding of differing social and cultural norms.
  • Taking responsibility for one’s actions, displaying humility with mistakes and offering others grace and forgiveness for theirs.
  • Emphasizing positivity and commonality rather than opposition or right and wrong.
  • Finding ways to be constructive in providing feedback to others.

Disrespectful behavior includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Offensive or inappropriate remarks, jokes, gestures, material (electronic or otherwise) or behavior
  • Yelling
  • Belittling
  • Reprimanding in the presence of others
  • Aggressive or patronizing behavior
  • Embarrassing or humiliating behavior
  • Intimidation and/or coercion
  • Damaging gossip or rumors
  • Bullying
  • Inappropriate physical contact
  • Covert behavior (inappropriately withholding information, undermining, underhandedness)
  • Micro-aggressions
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Sexual harassment
  • Behavior that is inconsistent with creating a work environment anchored in respect, dignity, equity, civility and inclusion.

We want all employees, regardless of position, to read and comply with this policy. We expect all employees in our agency to treat all their coworkers with dignity, civility and respect. If you are not sure whether you are following this policy, ask your supervisor for advice or support so you can uphold the values described here. We also expect everyone who works here to speak up when they see disrespectful behavior, or to report it so it can be addressed. We will take care of each other and create a safe space. We will commit to learning and growing through engagement and availing ourselves of workforce trainings on this and related topics.

In addition to the above, all supervisors, managers and leaders at WSSB are responsible to:

  • Advise employees on how to uphold the values described in this policy and support their efforts to learn. If as a manager, supervisor or leader, you need assistance, ask for support from human resources, Superintendent or other members of the admin team.
  • Lead by example. Create and maintain a workplace that demonstrates respect and professionalism.
  • Listen to employees when issues are raised. Do not condone or ignore violations of this policy or give employees the impression that you are.
  • Address behaviors and incidents that violate this policy quickly and at the lowest appropriate level.

Leadership in conjunction with the equity committee will review this policy at least every three years for changes and effectiveness.  Starting in 2021, the department will address respect, civility and dignity in the workplace as part of its training either during fall workshop or on-line training.

This policy applies to all department employees, contractors and volunteers. For represented employees, the collective bargaining agreement will supersede any specific provisions of WSSB policy with which it conflicts.

The directives indicated here are not optional, and failure to follow them may lead to discipline, up to and including termination. Leaders will be expected to explain how they worked to comply, achieve and exceed the goals identified in this policy.

Complaints and inquiries associated with this policy should be addressed with your immediate supervisor, Human Resources and/or Superintendent.


This policy was created using “Model Policies and Considerations for a Diverse, Equitable, Inclusive and Respectful Work Environment” which was Developed by: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy Committee; Scott Nicholson, Deputy Assistant Director; Office of Financial Management, State Human Resources Division In partnership with: Cheryl Sullivan-Colglazier, Department of Enterprise Services, Workforce Support and Development Division.