President DeGioia on Professional Conduct

Communities are built through the expression of shared values. At Georgetown, we value the inherent dignity of each person. We care for one another. We treat one another with respect and compassion. These values provide the foundation for our educational mission and our work together. Upholding them is our most fundamental responsibility as members of this community.

Find resources about policies that guide professional conduct, ways to address unprofessional conduct and trainings for building a culture of professionalism. This information is not intended to conflict with, violate or supersede the Georgetown University Faculty Handbook, the Department of Human Resources Policy Manual, Georgetown University Medical Center’s Standards for Professional Behavior or the University’s Policy on Speech and Expression.

Information and Resources:

University Ombuds

A university Ombudsperson is an independent, neutral third party who assists students, faculty, staff and/or administrators in resolving problems, concerns and complaints through informal means: counseling, negotiation and mediation.

What does professional behavior look like?

These include but are not limited to verbal and nonverbal behavior that is respectful, civil, reasonable and appropriate to a professional context, such as:

  •  Engaging in clear, open and honest communication
  •  Promoting equality and acceptance of people from diverse backgrounds
  • Promoting cooperation and participation, and sharing of ideas and information to enhance team success
  • Actively listening to the perspectives of others and seeking to resolve conflicts promptly
  • Offering constructive criticism in good faith to improve education, research, patient care, service or operations
  • Following applicable policies and procedures (e.g. Faculty Handbook and Human Resources policies)

These include, but are not limited to, inappropriate and/or disruptive behavior, whether between peers or those with a power differential, such as:  

  • Bullying behavior that adversely impacts an individual’s or group of employees’ ability to productively engage in work. Some examples include:
    • Belittling or berating statements, such as name calling
    • Aggressive, loud, abusive or intimidating statements
    • Intentionally degrading or demeaning comments (written or oral)
    • Deliberately withholding information required to perform work or excluding or isolating an employee from work-related activities, such as meetings.
  • Use of profanity or disrespectful language (written or oral)
  • Blatant failure to respond to or fulfill reasonable and professional work requests 
  • Threatening language or gestures directed to anyone
  • Throwing objects or physical contact directed to another individual
  • Threats of violence or retribution (written or oral)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Speak with your supervisor if you are experiencing workplace bullying. If your supervisor is the source of the bullying, or if there is some reason you would prefer not to make the report to your immediate supervisor, you may contact your campus Ombudsperson, your HR Business Partner or  an Employee Relations Specialist, or your campus Faculty Affairs resource. Employees may also make an anonymous complaint on the Georgetown University Compliance Helpline (1-888-238-9181). 

If you suspect that you are being bullied due to your race, gender, age or other protected classification, you may choose to file a complaint with the Office of Institutional Diversity Equity and Affirmative Action (IDEAA). To review the University’s Grievance Procedure or file a discrimination complaint with IDEAA, please refer to the IDEAA Grievance Procedures and the Discrimination Complaint Form.

Visit the “Report” page for more information and resources on reporting unprofessional conduct or bullying.

If possible, practice bystander intervention. For example, if you are in a group meeting and an individual is consistently not being given sufficient time to respond to a question or express a viewpoint, you can attempt to redirect the conversation and allow an additional opportunity for an individual to speak. 

Another option is to speak with your campus Ombudsperson to understand resources and develop strategies to respond effectively. You may also report any witnessed bullying or unprofessional conduct to your HR Business Partner and/or Employee Relations Specialist, to your campus Faculty Affairs specialist, or make an anonymous complaint on the Georgetown University Compliance Helpline (1-888-238-9181).

In line with Georgetown’s Whistleblower Protection PolicyNon-Discrimination Policy and Policy on Harassment, no employee shall be subject to retaliation for reporting their concerns or participating in grievance procedures in good faith.

Visit the “Get Support” page for more information and resources on addressing unprofessional conduct or bullying.

In line with Georgetown’s Whistleblower Protection PolicyNon-Discrimination Policy and Policy on Harassment, Georgetown prohibits retaliation against an employee for reporting their concerns or participating in grievance procedures in good faith.

  • Listen to the individual carefully to understand their concerns.
  • Where reasonable, attempt to resolve the issue locally. Explore options that the individual may choose to take based on their comfort level, as well as conversations that you might have with the parties involved to address the situation.  
  • If you are unable to resolve the matter locally to the satisfaction of all parties, you are responsible for understanding the resources, appropriate policies and complaint mechanisms available, and sharing them with the individual.
  • If the individual who has engaged in alleged unprofessional behavior is:
    • a faculty member, then you must attempt to resolve the matter or take it to the appropriate Dean within 5 days. A summary may be found here of the stages in processing allegations of faculty misconduct under the Faculty Responsibilities Code.   
    • staff member, then contact your HR Business Partner or an Employee Relations Specialist for assistance submitting a complaint in accordance with HR policies. A summary may be found here of the HR Dispute Resolution Policy.
    • a student, then attempt to resolve the matter locally. As needed, reach out to the appropriate dean to discuss suggestions and best practices for informal resolution and/or classroom management. Ongoing concerns or serious misconduct may be referred to the appropriate student conduct official for the student’s campus, who can determine whether the matter is appropriate for adjudication under the applicable code of conduct:
      • Main Campus Undergraduate, Graduate, and School of Continuing Studies – The Office of Student Conduct, which can initiate cases under the Georgetown University Student Code of Conduct
      • School of Medicine – The Senior Associate Dean for Students, who can initiate cases under the School of Medicine’s Student Code of Professionalism (in the Student Handbook)
      • Law School – The Law Center’s Ethics Counsel, who can initiate cases under the Georgetown Law Student Disciplinary Code (in the Student Handbook)

All employees will be held accountable for unprofessional behavior, as determined under appropriate university policies.

If it is determined that a faculty member has violated the Professional Conduct Provisions in the Faculty Handbook (See Faculty Handbook III(C)(11)), then following the process outlined in the Faculty Responsibilities Code, the faculty member will be subject to appropriate corrective or disciplinary action. (See Faculty Handbook III(G)(10)).

If it is determined that a staff/AAP member has violated HR Policy 401: Professional Conduct, then following the process outlined in HR Policy 302: Disciplinary Actions and Dismissal, the staff/AAP member will be subject to appropriate corrective or disciplinary action.