Please note: This blog contains mention of sexual harassment.
Following on from the recent report on the outcome of investigations into sexual harassment, Interim Chair Nadine Campbell and Whistleblowing and Safeguarding Trustee Isobel Michael answer some of the questions raised and talk about the Chartered Institute’s next steps.
The release of the report on the outcome of complaints about sexual harassment last week was a significant step for the Chartered Institute of Fundraising in being accountable for our actions, apologising for and being clear about mistakes, and setting out what changes are underway.
As the Interim Chair and Whistleblowing and Safeguarding Trustee, we recognise the importance of transparency about what we’ve learned through the investigations and consultation during this process, to say sorry where we’ve got things wrong, and to ensure that the right steps are taken to ensure the safety of members and everyone involved in our activities, and that safeguarding is at the heart of what we do moving forward. Most importantly, we hope that the voices of the survivors and allies have been better heard through this process, and reflected in this report and the outcome of the investigations.
In putting the report together, we tried to answer questions or issues that our members might have and to help them understand the report. Since we emailed members last week with the open letter and published the report on our website, there have been some further questions and themes that have been raised directly to us. We have written this blog to continue openness and transparency, although there are some limits that we hope people will respect that we are unable to answer publicly due to our duty of care and the nature of complaints focused on sexual harassment.
In some cases we have grouped the questions and issues together where there were more than one covering the same subject:
Evidence provided to the investigation was considered but as set out in the report, the Investigations Committee ‘noted’ evidence about a five-month gap between a complaint about sexual harassment being raised in 2019 and follow up contact from the CEO. The investigation conclusions found that Chartered Institute staff were “aware but took no action to investigate the respondent; rather they relied on complainants making formal complaints.” The Investigations Committee did not treat this evidence as a separate complaint about a report of sexual harassment to staff not being acted upon, and we have apologised for this.
Action is being taken now and the evidence will be considered within the new independent review on the issue of concerns, reports, and complaints of sexual harassment not being acted upon appropriately by the Chartered Institute.
The person has not been named as the investigation was conducted under the 2019 Complaints and Disciplinary Rules, which does not cover publishing names of subjects of complaint. Our new Complaints and Disciplinary Rules will allow us to publish names in the future.
We are taking actions as set out in the report to ensure that all Chartered Institute events are safe, as well as permanently banning this individual from membership and attending events. We now have a screening process to ensure that anyone who has been suspended or expelled due to an investigation cannot participate in events or activities.
When survivors were informed of the outcome of the investigation, two were advised that the physical nature of the incident that took place could fall under the definition of assault. We asked them to let us know if they needed any support in relation to this, including around whether they would like to report the incident to the police. We would of course support them and provide all information that we can to the police to help any further investigation.
There will be a working group that includes the CEO (Interim CEO until 7 October, then permanent CEO), a new trustee (elected in July 2021) and one-two volunteers who have had no connection to the investigations or related issues. The due diligence process will involve consultation with a small number of potential reviewers, assessment of their relevant experience, expertise and independence, with references to be taken up and checked. Advice on potential reviewers is being taken from individuals and organisations with experience of independent reviews and management of allegations of sexual harassment. We plan to make public the name of the independent reviewer when appointed.
This is a time of significant change at the Chartered Institute. The process of investigation and the issues raised go back over a period of time, during which some members of the board have stepped down (including at the AGM in July 2021) and in order to continually refresh the board, one trustee is stepping down at the end of the year. Three new trustees were elected in July 2021, who are playing key roles in the change underway. There will be new leadership for the Chartered Institute with a new CEO starting in October, a process to recruit a new Chair and fill another trustee vacancy.
We have heard directly from survivors, allies, and members about the need for systemic change. The trustees are all committed to change and working hard to achieve this, rather than stepping away from the challenges for the organisation. We have been transparent about the organisational failings and committed to a new independent review.
The list of Fellows was taken down earlier in the summer as it is being updated and to ensure that the Fellows scheme incorporates changes underway. Our Fellows scheme is currently paused to new nominations, with our Nominations and Elections Committee reviewing the criteria and process and reflecting on learnings that have come from this process.
The roundtables are going to be a series of meetings that will be mainly held through and chaired by Chairs of our regional and national groups, as well as meetings for other parts of our membership. They will be attended by our new CEO, Katie Docherty, and trustees, and are a really important opportunity for us to hear directly from members and to inform our new organisational strategy.
The meetings will take place in October and November with the first event on Monday 11 October. They are taking place in the autumn rather than the summer because of the difficulty of arranging them during summer holidays (which we recognise should have been anticipated) as well as wanting our new CEO to be able to participate in them all. Each roundtable will last for two hours and take place over Zoom.
Once again, we want to thank members for your support, challenge and questions, which will help us to work together with you to create the systemic change needed to build a more inclusive and dynamic organisation. We know how important it is for our professional body to be one that you can trust to respond swiftly and appropriately to concerns about harassment, bullying and discrimination; have the safety of fundraisers at heart; and to be held accountable.
As elected trustees and members, we share this need and will continue to work to implement change to build the organisation that both you and we can be proud of. Members and volunteers will be central to the systemic change for the Chartered Institute, with new leadership and a strategic direction that we can all help to shape together.
We want to repeat our apologies and thanks to the survivors and allies who have fought so hard on these issues over many years. It should never have taken so long for action to be taken.
If you would like to ask further questions, please email us on Nadine.email@example.com or Isobel.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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