tEQuitable is a modern
tech-enabled Ombuds practice

What is an Ombuds?

An organizational Ombuds is an independent, confidential, impartial, and off-the-record resource to help employees explore options for resolving conflicts, problems, or concerns in the workplace. Ombuds do not advocate for the employee or for the company— they advocate for fairness. They offer conflict coaching, education, and consultation with a goal of empowering individuals to handle issues directly themselves.

Ombuds also identify trends and systemic issues in the organization. They recommend constructive changes to the leadership team for resolving these systemic issues with a goal of promoting clarity and fairness.

How do Ombuds help companies?

Prevent bias and harassment issues from escalating

For companies, an Ombuds brings systemic concerns to the attention of the organization along with actionable recommendations for resolving those concerns. By providing an early warning signal for new issues, an Ombuds helps companies get in front of issues before they escalate.

Reduce complaint investigation and litigation costs

In addition, by empowering employees to address concerns and conflicts directly with each other, Ombuds help companies create a culture where "if you see something, say something". This helps organizations reduce the cost of resolving conflicts and avoid the time and money spent on formal grievance processes and litigation.

Improve workplace culture

The Ombuds is a complementary role to Human Resources. By providing multiple ways for employees to surface and resolve concerns and partnering to improve systemic policies and procedures, they can greatly improve workplace culture.

How do Ombuds help employees?

For employees, an Ombuds is a great place to start if they want to address an issue but aren't sure where to go or what to do. They can have a private, off-the-record conversation with an impartial, independent person about any issue, big or small.

An Ombuds will...
  • Provide a safe place to share confidences
  • Listen carefully and actively seek to understand concerns
  • Help the visitor analyze complex issues and difficult situations
  • Help the visitor identify and clarify their needs and interests
  • Refer the visitor to resource and services
  • Explain policies and procedures related to their concerns
  • Help the visitor identify options and potential solutions
  • Serve as an impartial party
An Ombuds will not...
  • Takes sides in a dispute
  • Advocate on behalf of an individual
  • Criticize or judge
  • Participate in formal processes
  • Make or reverse administrative decisions
  • Document issues or complaints
  • Serve as an office of report or receive notice on behalf of the company

Examples of issues Ombuds address

  • Harassment, discrimination, abuse of power, bullying, unfair treatment
  • Interpersonal, intercultural, and group conflicts
  • Respect, fairness, and trust issues
  • Fear of coming forward or of acting to stop unacceptable behavior
  • Miscommunication between supervisors, coworkers, employees
  • Confusion around policies and/or procedures
  • Management or leadership concerns

Ombuds professional standards

The International Ombudsman Association (IOA) is the largest international organization of organizational Ombuds practitioners in the world. tEQuitable Ombuds are members of IOA and practice according to the IOA Code of Ethics and IOA Standards of Practice.