The Oxfam scandal should remind us to encourage and protect whistleblowers
PHOTO BY SEESAWPHOTO.COM_.AU CC BY-NC 2.0
15 February, 2018
Shocking news about the sexual misconduct of a number of Oxfam staff resulted in a serious a backlash from the media, and the withdrawal of support from many of its regular donors. Many will be questioning whether it has also dealt a blow to the charity sector overall. Whatever your feelings about Oxfam’s fate, it should be clear that no matter the size of organisation or the strength of its overall ethos – gross misconduct can happen anywhere.
One of the best ways to safeguard against such incidents is to have clear routes for reporting and dealing with misconduct and malpractice. All staff and volunteers should be made aware of such policies, and feel safe in the knowledge that they can whistleblow without risk to their career and reputation.
NCVO has shared its sample whistleblowing policy (available free to members) and encourages all leadership teams to review current policies and speak to staff about whistleblowing.
The Charity Commission has published guidelines on whistleblowing to the Commission itself, complemented by free information on Public Concern at Work’s website.
Serious Incident Reporting
If you are a paid employee, you are legally protected as a whistleblower, however volunteers (including trustees) and self-employed people do not receive the same level of protection (see the Charity Commission’s whistleblowing policy). Volunteers and trustees are recommended to report any issues, via the serious incidents route.
View NCVO’s sample whistleblowing policy (free to NCVO members).
Go to Public Concern at Work’s website (whistleblowing advice for charities and the general public).
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