The findings of the International Development Committee’s report, 'Sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector’ was published today, Tuesday, July 31st.
You may have heard Christian Aid’s name mentioned in today’s news reports. Please be assured we take safeguarding incredibly seriously.
Last February, when asked by media outlets to inform them of any reported sexual misconduct amongst Christian Aid staff in the past year, we told them that two staff members, nationals overseas, had been found in breach of our strict Code of Conduct.
In both cases we took swift action, involving dismissal in one instance, and a full report to the Charity Commission.
Neither individual had acted criminally, nor had their misconduct been directed at anyone who is supported by Christian Aid.
The staff members involved did not live up to the standards and expectations outlined in our code of conduct. One of the instances was a case of failings in adequate safeguarding, which was reported to the Charity Commission. The Charity Commission indicated in its response to us that it was satisfied with the actions of Christian Aid and our Trustees, and that no further report on the safeguarding matter was required.
Christian Aid takes the issues of sexual harassment, abuse and safeguarding extremely seriously. We have always, and continue to, seek improvements in our and our partners’ culture, policies and practice and we welcome this report. The International Development Select Committee have made useful and constructive suggestions for how the sector can work together more effectively to ensure that incidents are reported, investigated and dealt with effectively, that all staff, volunteers, people and communities are properly protected; and that survivors get the support they need.
The Committee also makes some important points about the need for culture change across the whole aid sector and we believe this is at the heart of the issue. We will be reviewing all the recommendations carefully to ensure that we continue to do all we can in this critical area. We have taken significant steps already this year to improve our safeguarding policies and practice. We will play a proactive role in working with others to ensure that any change is meaningful and systemic. Our partners overseas, our supporters and our staff require nothing less.
Christian Aid is a signatory to sector-wide codes of conduct. We also have a range of established policies and procedures aimed at preventing sexual harassment committed by any individual representing Christian Aid (including staff, volunteers and consultants) against other staff, beneficiaries or anyone else.
We continuously review and refresh our current policies and practices, to ensure that we take timely and corrective actions to prevent and censure such behaviour, ensuring we have confidential and robust mechanisms that enable and support our workforce, communities we work with, and stakeholders to report concerns and incidents without fear or favour, and to ensure protection and support for individuals who report or have experienced such incidents.
Across Christian Aid we continue to work with colleagues to ensure a better (and shared) understanding of what sexual harassment is, and the zero-tolerance culture we expect – including by training staff across the global organisation on the organisation’s code of conduct.