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Social safety: This is us

Integrity is a precondition for carrying out our mission. Patients are often in a vulnerable and dependent position and must be able to trust our individual integrity and the integrity of UMC Utrecht as a whole. Students, employees, and the society around us must also be able to put their trust in this. Integrity means doing the right thing in the right way, also when no-one is looking. Whether it’s the way in which we act towards each other (social integrity), how we do research (scientific integrity), how we handle business choices (business integrity), or how we act towards patients and stakeholders in research (professional integrity). Besides a clearly defined framework, appropriate behavior also requires a socially safe, open, inclusive, and stimulating work and learning environment.

In May 2023 we started with the program This is Us  which focuses on creating a more socially safe, open, inclusive, and stimulating work and learning environment for everyone who who is working and learning at UMC Utrecht.

To raise social-safety awareness, we started the campaign ‘Let’s talk about (in)appropriate behavior’ and launched the This is Us website . Awareness is also fueled by repeatedly bringing up the topic on the agendas of for instance management, of various consultative bodies, at the start of the academic year, during Integrity Week, and on Education Day. In the campaign we focus not only on those who have experienced inappropriate behavior and those who were (unintentionally) guilty of it, but also on bystanders. The group of people who have witnessed inappropriate behavior is in fact the biggest and can make a difference provided they are aware of it and have the right tools to act. 

Initiatives were also taken to offer an action guideline in the event of inappropriate behavior. In 2023, the action guideline that we offer included the facilitating of dialog and the development of skills through (online) training. On the This is Us website, toolkits can be found for each target group (employees/students/managers), including the customized e-learning course on ‘Appropriate behavior’. 

We have also fine-tuned our basis and made it easier for instance to find our code of conduct and procedures for reporting or asking for help on our This is Us website. We facilitated and accompanied about 25 internal dialogs in departments, in teams, and 1-on-1.  

The program with the campaign has proven to be a catalyst in making it easier to discuss the topic of social safety. And to set up effective follow-up steps to increase social and psychological safety. A movement has been started, valuable dialogs are being conducted, and there is a need for more. We are therefore continuing with it in 2024. In 2024 the focus is on further increasing social safety and anchoring it in the organization.