What is my role in managing risk?

Harvard staff and faculty have two roles in managing risk. The first role is to be aware of and understand what areas of risk are present in your current position. For example, if you manage people you need to consider employment laws, discrimination laws and union contracts. You also need to consider the University's policies and practices around hiring, firing and creating a safe work environment.

Once you know your risk areas, you need to consider the implications of these risks on yourself, your department and the University. This second role in managing risk requires that you to assess each situation and that you anticipate the consequences of your actions. How do you make such an assessment? Ask your self the following questions:

  • Is this action legal? If it is not legal, stop here.
  • Does this action meet the University's standards?
  • Does this action meet my professional standards?
  • Does the "golden rule" apply? How would I feel if I were treated this way?
  • How would this look on the front page of the newspaper?

These questions provide a framework to assess risk. If you still do not know what to do, you should seek guidance. The University has many resources to assist you with your decision-making processes including your Human Resources representative, the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Risk Management & Audit Services, Environmental Health & Safety or the University's Anonymous Reporting Hotline.

See also: Risk Management