Major review uncovers workplace discrimination and harassment at Save the Children

A major review has found that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of people working for prominent charity Save the Children have encountered discrimination or harassment at work.

The far-reaching review into workplace culture at the not-for-profit organisation, which was first launched in February, has revealed that staff have suffered “gender harassment and unwanted sexual attention,” as well as “unwelcome touching in areas such as the waist,” and “disparaging comments.”

Further to the publication of the findings, the charity has said that it will work with its staff to tackle “workplace incivility,” by reviewing its organisational structure and operations.

The independent review, which was initially launched in the wake of shocking revelations regarding Save the Children’s handling of sexual misconduct claims against two former employees in previous years, was carried out by organisational ethics expert, Suzanne Shale.

It included a survey of the charity’s workforce – in which 68 per cent of all of the organisation’s employees took part.

Despite the worrying findings in terms of discrimination and harassment, 91 per cent of respondents told the survey that they took pride in their work for Save the Children, while 89 per cent said that their colleagues were supportive.

However, commentators have said that the fact 28 per cent of staff feel they have been a victim of discrimination or harassment indicates that levels of such behaviour at Save the Children are similar to those in organisations such as the NHS – a very worrying finding indeed.

The review has laid out five recommendations as to how Save the Children can improve. These are:

  • It should work collaboratively with staff on a comprehensive plan to reform the organisation.
  • It must increase support for staff to reduce “workplace incivility”.
  • It needs to increase diversity across the charity’s workforce and board.
  • It should review its whistleblowing arrangements.
  • It needs to ensure that its HR department is properly equipped.

Hayley Trovato, Senior Associate at OGR Stock Denton, said: “Despite the widespread media attention it has received, as this case highlights, sex discrimination and harassment in the workplace is a problem for both employers and employees.

“While this is a problem that has always existed, it is perhaps only now, following the recent #metoo campaign, that the true extent and scale of the issue is being fully appreciated.

“All employees should expect their employers to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace and indeed, employers are responsible for doing this as they will be liable for any harassment suffered by their employees unless they can show they have taken reasonable step to prevent it.

“Employers need to be prepared to deal with this issue head-on, have appropriate policies in place and ensure everyone is well aware of their existence. Failing to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace is not only letting your employees down on a human level but it is also, in short, bad for business. It can lead to a working environment entrenched in fear and lacking trust and morale, which overall will have a negative impact on productivity and lead to a high staff turnover and an increase in absences.”

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