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Senior police officer wins £31,000 in sex discrimination tribunal

Emma Bond, now an assistant chief constable at Police Scotland, claimed against the Police Service of Northern Ireland

Emma Bond, who was the first female commander of Derry City and Strabane, has been awarded £31,000 in her sex discrimination case against the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Bond raised concerns about PSNI officers working from home during the first lockdown, while continuing to be paid.

The officers involved said they were allowed to be on stand-by from home.

She allegedly gave officers under her command a “rollicking”, and four officers lodged complaints about her behaviour, which was labelled “humiliating, intimidating and degrading".

One complaint resulted in her being served with a notice for potential misconduct, but it was later withdrawn.

She told chief constable Simon Byrne that someone had said “being in the woman’s thing has gone to her head”, referring to the Women in Policing Association, which Bond co-founded in 2007 and served as chair for until 2021.

The tribunal also saw misogynistic WhatsApp messages from junior staff following the incident.

Read more: Police officer unfairly dismissed over sexist fitness test

Bond was later transferred to a role in the police training college against her wishes, with senior officers citing concern over her two-hour commute. However, her male replacement lived in a similar area.

Bond is now an assistant chief constable with Police Scotland.

PSNI chief operating officer Pamela McCreedy, said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland will take time to fully consider the written judgment.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Jackie Handy, inclusive leadership consultant, said female leaders’ actions are often perceived differently to those of their male counterparts.

She said: “For as long as I can remember, women have been subjected to misogynistic comments and behaviour in the workplace. For example, a woman displaying ‘assertive‘ behaviour akin to males is often labelled ‘aggressive’.

“Organisations are getting better but must continue to educate all staff members about what is and is not acceptable behaviour, whilst also creating psychologically safe spaces for women to speak up and be believed.”

Read more: Blame is attributed differently to male and female leaders

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, founder of HR consultancy 10Eighty, added that employers should review their leadership culture to ensure women are not disadvantaged.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “We may think we are beyond a culture of old boys’ networks, prejudice and an emphasis on macho management but unhelpful attitudes towards women leaders persist.

“Juggling family responsibilities and work commitments still limits how many women can join in work-related social events, which makes it even more difficult to break into male-dominated networks. If preferred team bonding activities are golf or fishing, are female managers disadvantaged?”