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Respect in Our Workplace

Respect in our workplace

I am responsible for: respect in our workplace

Respect is the foundation for a productive and thriving workplace. It is ingrained in our values and culture. The City is committed to supporting a safe, respectful and inclusive work environment. 

While creating and sustaining a respectful workplace is a collective effort, there are many things we can do on our own to make The City a great place to work. Whether you are representing The City from your cubicle, from your flexible workstation or from a City vehicle, you are expected to behave in a respectful manner in every interaction, every day.

Respectful behaviours

Be inclusive:

  • Recognize that we all have unique backgrounds, communication styles, and work styles.
  • Create and protect an environment that is free of harassment and discrimination, including racism and sexual harassment, for the benefit of all employees.
  • Consider how your words, actions, and gestures might impact people differently.
  • Value the various thoughts, perspectives, and experiences in our diverse workforce that contribute to innovation and an enriched work environment.
  • Be flexible, patient, and constructive when navigating challenging conversations and situations.
  • Contribute to an inclusive workplace culture, in which everyone feels safe to fully engage and be themselves.

Setting an example:

  • I assume the best about colleagues and citizens.
  • If someone is new or unfamiliar with a task, I help them.
  • I try to be adaptable and accommodate different styles and situations.
  • I listen to customers, partners, colleagues, and other interested groups to understand their valuable knowledge and ideas.
  • I am aware of my own perceptions when I interact with people who are different from me, as well as the triggers that make me uncomfortable.

Be an ambassador:

  • Show respect in interactions with agencies and other partners.
  • Always strive to listen, respect, and act.
  • Express curiosity and interest in others’ views and approaches.
  • Communicate respectfully in public and through personal social media when identifiable as a City employee. 

Setting an example:

  • I am kind. If I’m in the park and see someone fall, I ask them if they would like help.
  • If I notice kids in the community, I give a friendly wave.
  • If a customer appears upset, I take the time to listen to their point of view.
  • I keep the tone of my electronic communications thoughtful and friendly.

Assume responsibility:

  • Address conflicts in a positive and productive way.
  • Speak up when you see disrespectful behaviour.
  • Support colleagues who are dealing with challenges.
  • Check for mutual understanding.
  • Make decisions that promote a respectful and inclus​ive workplace.

Setting an example:

  • If I make a mistake, I apologize.
  • If I accidentally hurt someone’s feelings, sense of self, or sense of security, I apologize.
  • I refuse to be a bully.
  • I step in when someone else is being treated poorly.
  • I refuse to be drawn into inappropriate actions or behaviours.
  • I do not use profane, vulgar, or abusive language, whether in person, electronically, or on social media.
  • I include all members of my team in relevant activities and decision-making.

Behaviours to avoid: I will not…

  • Harm another person’s dignity or sense of well-being.
  • Touch someone without their consent.
  • Gossip and/or discredit a co-worker by sharing information that is not true or not yours to share.
  • Post or send intimidating messages or images to or about a colleague.
  • Make comments that ridicule or berate others.
  • Intimidate someone through your physical presence, the volume of your voice, or the use of information, seniority, or a position of authority.
  • Behave or act in a discriminating way based on a person’s race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, age, or other Human Rights Protected Grounds.
  • Undermine someone’s performance or contribution.
  • Make sexually suggestive comments, jokes, advances, or requests.
  • Make jokes that are hurtful, humiliating, demeaning, belittling, or offensive.
  • Share or view graphic, demeaning, or pornographic images using City devices or while at work. 



A conscious, willful, deliberate and repeated activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm and/or threat of aggression that has a negative effect on a person’s health and safety. Bullying is a form of harassment that can be verbal (name-calling, putdowns, threats), social (exclusion, gossip, ganging up), physical (hitting, damaging property) or cyberbullying (using technology to harass or threaten). Bullying can occur within a peer group or between groups. It can occur at work and outside of work.


Any conduct, comment or action based on a protected ground. This includes:

  • Harassment and bullying, when connected to a protected ground: age, ancestry, colour, gender (includes pregnancy, sexual harassment, transgender), gender expression, gender identity, family status, marital status, mental disability, physical disability, place of origin, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, source of income, or any other protected ground covered by the Alberta Human Rights Act;
  • Practices, policies or systems which have a direct or negative impact based on a protected ground; and/or,
  • Behaviours, comments or actions to or about an individual or group, which are unwelcome, based on a protected ground and result in a negative or poisoned work environment.

Disrespectful behaviour

Is objectionable or unwelcome conduct with moderate impact, which may or may not have intent to cause harm and has a negative effect on the work environment or individual(s).

Diverse workforce

A workforce composed of unique individuals with diverse identities, backgrounds, individual characteristics, and perspectives. 


Is any single significant incident or repeated incidents of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comment, bullying or action by a person that the person knows, or ought reasonably to know, will or would cause offence or humiliation to an individual and/or a negative effect an individual’s health and safety.

Inclusive workplace

A Workplace where employees welcome, support, respect, and value individuals and treat everyone fairly and equitably, by taking into account individual differences. 


A Leader means a person who is in a position of directing employees and/or work relating to any City Workplace, project, contract, or volunteer operation.  They have job titles such as City Manager, General Manager, Director, Chief, Manager, Deputy, Leader, Supervisor, Captain, Team Lead, Superintendent, Foreman, Lead Hand, Coordinator or similar.  This includes those temporarily acting in a Leader role or has been delegated a Leader’s duties. 

Protected grounds

The Alberta Human Rights Act provides protection from discrimination or harassment on the following grounds: age, ancestry, colour, family status, marital status, mental disability, physical disability, place of origin, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, source of income, gender (including pregnancy, sexual harassment or transgender), gender identity and gender expression.

Sexual harassment

Is any unwelcome behavior, comment or conduct that is sexual in nature and negatively affects, or threatens to affect a person, either directly or indirectly. Sexual Harassment is considered a type of gender discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act. Examples include:

  • Unwelcome advances, requests, comments, physical contact such as unnecessary touching, pinching, patting, jostling or gestures that are sexually suggestive;
  • Leering that is sexual in nature;
  • Implied or expressed threats of reprisal for refusal to comply with a sexual request; and/or,
  • Implied or expressed promise of reward for agreeing to comply with a sexual request.


Whether at a Workplace or work-related, Violence means the Threatened, attempted, or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause physical or psychological injury or harm, and includes domestic or sexual Violence.


Any location where City work is being or may be conducted including work-based social gatherings. A workplace can include City buildings, vehicles, off-site meetings, customer sites and telework locations.

I always have choices. Which one feels right to me?

A co-worker sends me an email that includes an offensive joke and language. What should I do?

  • I forward this onto a friend to show them that our colleague can be a jerk.

  • I delete the email and don’t mention it to anyone. I don’t like what was sent but I don’t want to get my co-worker in trouble. We’re friends.

  • I delete the email and tell the sender not to forward any more information like this.

  • If the behaviour continues or escalates, I speak with my leader if I believe the information is disrespectful, discriminatory or violent in nature.

Speak up

Not saying something, either to the person sending you the email, your leader or to your HR Business Partner, shows a willingness to tolerate disrespectful behaviour.  This makes the behaviour more likely to continue. Taking the time to address the situation in a calm and rational way can help us build and maintain a respectful workplace – one where we all feel included and accepted.

More examples

Respectful workplace example #1

Dear Code of Conduct,

One of my colleagues is looking for a more personal relationship than I want. How do I handle this respectfully so I’m still able to work with this person? What should I do?

  – Just Friends

Dear Just Friends,

A colleague asking you on a date or to attend a social event would not be a Code of Conduct issue. If you aren’t interested in your colleague you need to let them know respectfully. In turn, your colleague is expected to respect your decision and maintain a healthy professional relationship with you after that conversation. If this is not the case, then these actions could become a Code of Conduct, Respect in the Workplace issue in the future. 

Respectful workplace example #2

Dear Code of Conduct,

My co-workers have been treating a team member badly. This person was away sick for an extended period and since he returned to work he has been excluded from conversations and even some meetings. It is affecting morale and team spirit. What should I do?

– Feeling Sick About This

Dear Feeling Sick,

This sounds like a difficult situation for the employee who has been away. Many employees who have been off work due to illness will feel uneasy upon return. It can be a challenge for the team as well when a member is absent for a period of time. Staffing and role changes can put stresses on some teams.

I encourage you to talk to your supervisor, or your HR Business Partner, about what supports are available to help your team through these periods. Every employee is a valued member of The City team and the best way to restore morale and team spirit is to welcome this person back with offers of support. Health issues could happen to any one of us.

Respectful workplace example #3

Dear Code of Conduct,

I am Facebook friends with a colleague who often posts profane language and racy pictures on their page. It makes me uncomfortable because they list their employer as The City of Calgary. What should I do?

– Facebook Friend or Foe

Dear Facebook Friend,

Any staff member who publicly identifies as a City of Calgary employee must abide by the Code of Conduct in all public statements or comments. All City employees are ambassadors for The Corporation.

When making public statements about a personal opinion, either online or in person, employees should ensure they are not directly representing, or appear to be representing, The City.

A good first step is to talk to your friend. Let your friend know that their comments may reflect poorly both on them and on The City’s reputation.

Learn more

If you are unsure: ask questions and seek guidance

  • Your leader is there to provide clarity on expectations in the workplace and to support you.

  • If you are not comfortable speaking to your leader, you can speak with their leader. The Corporate Organizational Chart can help you identify who this is.

  • The HR Business Partner in your business unit can answer some of your questions or help you find someone who can. If you need to find contact information for your HR Business Partner call: 403-268-5800