How will the BMA investigation into sexism and harassment work?

The BMA has set out the terms of reference and scope of an investigation into sexism and sexual harassment after members revealed concerns about a the culture within the organisation. Read the full detail of how the investigation will work and what it will cover.

BMA sexism investigation (Photo: Malcolm Case Green)
BMA sexism investigation (Photo: Malcolm Case Green)

The BMA promised an urgent investigation after GPonline published a warning from two senior BMA GP committee members that sexism within the organisation had cost the profession a generation of leaders.

This website also reported on women in senior roles' experiences of sexism, harassment, exclusion and concerns about a 'sexist culture' in the BMA.

The BMA has now published the terms of reference and scope of an investigation it expects to last around two months - and which will deliver recommendations to tackle sexism and sexual harassment. Read the details of the investigation in full below.

Terms of reference:

  • Investigate the allegations made by members (and past members) of the BMA GP committee, as reported in the media, in relation to sexism and sexual harassment in the BMA.
  • Assess the BMA’s actions taken on any reported incidents on sexism or sexual harassment. 
  • Identify any specific incidents that should be scrutinised under the BMA’s code of conduct processes and have not already been so.
  • Assess why incidents had not been reported to the code of conduct process and with any recommendations for improving the system (note: a review with recommendations for changes to the code of conduct complaint process is due to be concluded in May)
  • Assess the current degree of sexism/gender inequality in the BMA, including comparisons with other organisations or sectors.
  • Assess the BMA’s work and policies in promoting gender equality.
  • Assess any organisational or systemic factors in the BMA that fail to promote gender equality.
  • Make specific recommendations to address sexism or sexual harassment in the BMA, drawing upon examples of best practice.

Operational scope:

  • The independent investigation will consider the experiences of BMA members and staff, covering sexism and sexual harassment during their interactions on BMA business.
  • The investigation will be open to confidential feedback from all BMA members and staff on the matters within its purview. 
  • This will include seeking detailed feedback from those who have made complaints in the media as well as those who have responded to the statements that the BMA has already made to the press and membership. 
  • When considering feedback on individual incidents, the investigation will consider whether the complaints and disciplinary procedure in place at the time were used. The press reports refer to attitudes among members to these processes and so it is important to understand members’ experience of them and, if they chose not to use them, why this was so.
  • Any individual incidents of sexual discrimination and/or harassment where the actions of an identified individual/individuals appear to fall short of the standards of behaviour expected of members will be referred for appropriate action under the BMA code of conduct.
  • It is expected that the investigator will be able to conclude the investigation within a two-month timeframe.

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