Responding to complaints about sexual harassment

14 March 2021
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Please note: This page contains mention of sexual harassment against women.

Updated on 14 March 2021

It cannot be overstated how seriously we take the discussions highlighted on social media today. Anyone affected by harassment in any form must be listened to.

We have previously stated that making the fundraising profession a safe place for everyone will always be a priority for us. This continues to be our commitment.

To address and clarify the points raised in the discussion today, we want to share how we are dealing with complaints and signpost to anyone who wants to make a complaint.

While we cannot comment on ongoing investigations, we can confirm that we treat every single complaint with the highest level of importance, consideration and confidentiality, no matter how many we receive or whom they concern.

Two complaints have been referenced in discussions online.

One of those is a current investigation, about which we cannot comment. However, we can confirm that when a serious complaint is made against a member we will suspend their membership while we investigate that complaint. Find out more about making a complaint.

The second was disclosed as we gathered evidence for a separate investigation, where an audio recording claimed an allegation of sexual assault had been made previously and had been ignored. While we wouldn’t normally comment on a complaint where the outcome didn’t result in a sanction, we think it important to place on record that the investigation into the audio recording was conducted immediately, and found there was no evidence that a previous allegation had been made. However, the substantive evidence of alleged sexual harassment that came to light during the investigation of that case is currently being considered as part of an existing and ongoing investigation.  

The importance of learning lessons

Complaints and discussions around any form of harassment or bullying are complicated and sensitive. We follow processes around our complaints to make sure that we treat people fairly and in confidence, particularly to avoid triggering further distress to those involved in any process.

Since updating our complaints process in June 2019 we have undertaken a number of investigations, several of which have resulted in specific sanctions.  Whilst we have not chosen to publish findings, often in order to protect complainants, we want to reassure members that the process has been well used and has delivered important results for the fundraising community.  At times we recognise that this may result in the impression that action is not taking place, but we wish to offer all members the utmost reassurance that this is not the case, and that we have chosen not to play out these cases in the public domain.  In the future, we will seek ways to update members on actions taken without compromising the confidentiality of each process.

Our Board of Trustees will soon be considering the findings of an independent review into our complaints process. This review was commissioned in December 2020 to look at the effectiveness of our complaints policies and procedures since they were updated in 2019, and has been conducted by Tell Jane.

We will be sharing our learning and next steps with members and with the wider community once the Board has had an opportunity to discuss it.

We continue to actively encourage anyone to come forward to report their experience of any inappropriate behaviour by a member of the Chartered Institute or at a Chartered Institute event, no matter when the incident happened. Our complaints policy can be read here.

An independent helpline provided by Tell Jane will provide confidential support for anyone seeking to understand how their complaint to the Chartered Institute will be handled. You can contact them on 0800 689 0843.

We will be sharing our learning and next steps with members and with the wider community once the Board has had an opportunity to discuss it.

Read our resource on safeguarding here.

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