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Respectful Workplace Advisors (RWA) Program

Respectful Workplace Advisors (RWAs) are a network of volunteer peers in Bank Group country offices and some units in Washington who serve as an informal and confidential source of assistance to staff facing difficult workplace issues. They are nominated by their colleagues in their country offices or work units in Washington and serve a four-year term. The RWA’sprimary role is to be a confidential, trusted and readily accessible resource that staff can turn to for help with workplace problems when they feel uncomfortable seeking help from routine channels, such as their supervisors or HR staff, or want information about where to seek assistance. Their goal is to help staff help themselves by listening and providing guidance. They do not become directly involved in resolving the issues brought to them by colleagues.RWA Training Group Photo Jan2012

RWAs can help staff access the services of any of the Bank Group’s Conflict Resolution Services (CRS), if appropriate. The RWA network is overseen by the Ombuds Services office. (RWAs were formerly called Anti-harassment Advisors – AHAs.)

If your Unit/Country Office would like to have RWAs, please contact the RWA Team and review the Nomination Guidelines for Appointing RWAs.

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Terms of ReferenceProgram ObjectivesStandards of PracticeFind an RWA

The World Bank Group recognizes the right of every staff member to be treated fairly, with respect and dignity and to work in a respectful workplace free of harassment, discrimination and intimidation. To support this policy, the Bank Group has set up several avenues through which individuals can seek advice and assistance or to register a complaint. One of the informal avenues of assistance is the Respectful Workplace Advisors (RWA) Program.

RWAs are a network of peer volunteers in World Bank Group country offices and some work units in Washington. RWAs are nominated by staff members in their offices, and serve a four-year term. The goal of the RWA is to help colleagues help themselves by listening and providing problem-solving guidance in confidence. The Program is managed by the Ombuds Services.

The role of the RWA is to:

  1. Provide an informal, confidential, trustworthy and readily accessible source of early assistance for staff with questions or concerns regarding a respectful workplace or who want information about where to seek assistance. Issues might include interpersonal conflicts, unfair treatment, harassment, disrespectful and unethical behaviors, employment or performance, misconduct and other workplace stresses; and
  2. Brief management on general respectful workplace trends while maintaining confidentiality.

In fulfilling their role, the responsibilities of RWAs are to:

  • Serve as a confidential sounding board for staff;
  • Listen and help colleagues assess their situations and think through their options;
  • Help colleagues help themselves by listening and providing problem-solving guidance in confidence;
  • Coach colleagues in conflict resolution skills, when appropriate, to enable them to help themselves in the future;
  • Guide colleagues to appropriate institutional sources of information and support, including the Internal Justice System;
  • Provide colleagues with information about relevant policies and procedures;
  • Model the WBG Code of Conduct and other organisational statements of standards and values;
  • Ensure colleagues understand how to confidentially contact them;
  • Respond to requests for assistance promptly;
  • Meet with the Country Manager/Director/VP periodically to discuss trends and the general office environment without providing information about specific cases or divulging the names of staff involved;
  • Give periodic presentations to all staff in the office/unit as well as briefings to new staff on their RWA role;
  • Send quarterly confidential Activity Forms to Ombuds Services on the types of issues brought to their attention, with no information that could identify a staff member in order to safeguard absolute confidentiality.

RWAs DO NOT intervene, investigate, mediate or participate in resolving issues. They do not represent staff or carry a staff member’ issue to a higher authority. They do not choose a course of action for staff members.

At all times RWAs must follow the RWA Standards of Practice*, by being: confidential, respectful, ethical, informal, trustworthy, independent, impartial and competent.

* The RWA Standards of Practice and RWA contact details can be found on the RWA Website

October 2012

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The RWA Program is one of a range of informal services available to staff within the Internal Justice System of the World Bank Group. This Program supports the World Bank Group’s commitment to fostering a positive and motivating workplace environment in which all staff can work together with openness and trust, in ways that demonstrate respect and value differences. All workplace issues regarding respectful and ethical behaviors and other sources of stress at work will be taken seriously.

RWA Program Responsibilities

The additional responsibilities of the RWA Program are to build capacity within the WBG by:

1. Raising awareness about respectful and ethical behaviors at the World Bank Group through

  1. Regular Program communications
  2. Updated presentations to staff and management
  3. Regular reports on RWA Program activities

2. Contributing to the informal resources available to staff by ensuring that:

  1. All staff have information available to enable easy and early access to RWAs
  2. All eligible Country Offices have RWAs

3. Facilitating the nomination and selection of appropriate staff to the RWA role by ensuring that:

  1. WBG staff nominated to be a RWA do not have other commitments that might lead to a conflict of interest;
  2. Nomination and selection processes are fair and understood by staff

4. Training nominated colleagues to an effective standard to meet their RWA responsibilities so that all RWAs have:

  1. A basic understanding of the dynamics of a culturally diverse environment and workplace problems, including various forms of disrespectful and unethical behaviors;
  2. A comprehensive awareness of the Bank Group’s policies and procedures on appropriate behaviors; and for addressing conflict;
  3. Familiarity with the services of the different units within the Internal Justice System (IJS);
  4. The ability to perform basic helping functions such as active listening; and
  5. An understanding of their roles and responsibilities, including how to handle and respond to workplace problems, and how to refer staff members to appropriate resources in the Bank Group.

Adhering to the RWA Standards of Practice*, by ensuring the Program is: organized, efficient, visible, accessible, competent, high-quality, coordinated, effective and impactful.

The process of providing assistance through the Program should also be: voluntary, accessible, informal, effective, empowering and satisfactory.

* The RWA Standards of Practice can be found on the RWA website.

October 2012

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These are standards of practice for the Respectful Workplace Advisors (RWA) Program. The standards include:

  1. Standards of Conduct for the RWA;
  2. Standards for the process by which RWA assistance is provided; and
  3. Standards for the RWA Program itself.

Standards of Conduct for the RWA


  • Holds all communication with those who consult him or her in strict confidence as per Staff Rule 9.02
  • Keeps no official records that identify individuals who may have consulted him or her
  • Prepares informal activity forms in a manner that protects the confidentiality and anonymity of individuals
  • Provides feedback, such as trends, to management in a way that protects the anonymity of staff who use the service
  • Does not provide notice to nor accepts notice on behalf of the organization

Respectful and Ethical

  • Acts in a professional, dignified and respectful manner to all, particularly to colleagues who consult with him or her
  • Acts with integrity and honesty

Neutral and Independent

  • Does not take sides; is equitable, unbiased, fair and just in the performance of his/her RWA responsibilities
  • Does not have an interest in or advocate for a particular outcome or resolution
  • Does not make decisions, intervene in disputes, advocate for individuals, investigate, adjudicate, mediate or represent individuals or issues
  • Holds no position that might compromise his/her impartiality and neutrality
  • Does not report to line management in his/her RWA role


  • Does not make decisions, mandate policies, or adjudicate issues for the organization in his or her RWA role
  • Does not participate in any investigations as an RWA
  • Functions on an informal basis by such means as: listening, providing information about resources, identifying and reframing issues, helping to develop a range of responsible options and, when possible, helps people develop ways to solve problems themselves

Exemplary and Trustworthy

  • Models the appropriate management and resolution of their own disputes, and treats colleagues with respect and integrity
  • Adheres to the parameters of their role and responsibilities
  • Is honest, reliable and honorable in his or her dealings with colleagues


  • Participates in all appropriate program training
  • Seeks to learn relevant knowledge and skills in order to provide quality service
  • Understands the role and responsibilities of the RWA in order to effectively help colleagues address conflict and encourage a respectful work environment

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Process Standards


  • Use of the program is voluntary
  • Staff must be able to understand the RWA process, the options available to them, and give voluntary and informed consent to any resolution reached
  • Staff who consult RWAs are informed of other available options and are free to choose those that best meet their needs

Accessible and Informal

  • The program is available to all staff
  • Assistance is available when needed
  • RWAs are easy to contact and respond in a timely manner to requests for assistance
  • Assistance is provided in an open and accessible manner


  • Staff who consult RWAs are enabled to resolve their disputes themselves
  • Staff who consult RWAs are enabled to resolve their disputes informally whenever appropriate
  • Staff are enabled to consider and select options that meet their interests
  • Staff who consult RWAs are enabled to resolve their disputes early and at the most appropriate level
  • Staff who consult RWAs are enabled to reach resolutions that suit their individual circumstances and with which they are satisfied

Empowering and Satisfactory

  • Staff who consult RWAs have the opportunity to acquire useful information
  • Staff who consult RWAs have the opportunity to learn basic dispute resolution and communication skills
  • Staff who consult RWAs are satisfied with the RWA process
  • Staff who consult RWAs recommend the program to others


  • Retaliation by a staff member against any person who uses the services of a RWA is expressly prohibited and shall result in proceedings under Staff Rules 03.00.

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Program Standards

Organized and Efficient

  • The program’s design and process are consistent with the program’s objectives and WBG’s code of conduct
  • The program complements other WBG dispute resolution avenues
  • There is sufficient staff to effectively administer the program and RWAs to provide assistance to staff who need the services
  • The responsibilities of the program’s administrator are clearly delineated and are consistent with the program’s mission
  • Staff have an opportunity to provide feedback regarding program operations
  • The program’s budget is managed prudently
  • The costs of dispute resolution to the organization and to the individual are minimized

Visible and Accessible

  • Staff are aware of the program, understand the program’s purpose and have at least a basic understanding of the RWA’s role
  • Program operations, accomplishments and progress are regularly communicated
  • Staff know how to access the program
  • It is easy to access the program


  • The RWAs have sufficient skills and training to fulfill their role
  • OMB staff develop, guide and support the RWAs


  • Standards are set for the program, services and any training program
  • Evaluation is periodically conducted to maintain program quality


  • The program coordinates its efforts with other staff resources, particularly the internal Justice System, management and Human Resources staff
  • Participants are informed of other resources and referred as appropriate
  • The program strives for an optimum number of participants by ensuring that staff are aware of and understand the program and trust and respect the RWAs
  • Systemic issues are identified and brought to management’s attention
  • Compliance with the organization’s standards of behavior is heightened
  • The program models best practices and continues to be a leader in the field of dispute resolution
  • Retaliation for use of the program is prevented when possible and addressed if needed
  • Management support at all levels is built and sustained
  • Staff support is cultivated and sustained
  • The program contributes to the overall well-being of the organization and individual staff members

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