As we have seen recently in the media, sexual abuse and harassment is a serious problem in many parts of society. Oxfam is no different.
Oxfam treats all allegations of sexual abuse very seriously and investigates each one thoroughly. We have a confidential 'whistle-blowing' helpline, a dedicated Safeguarding Team, and safeguarding contact points within countries.
In recent years we have worked hard not only to raise awareness amongst staff and improve how we handle complaints but also to change the culture in which we work to prevent the abuse of power in the first place and to support those that speak out.
We encourage people to report wherever they have a concern - and we have seen more people come forward as a result. We believe that only by being open and transparent about the problem can we tackle it.
We are committed to continually learning and improving in order to protect our staff, volunteers and beneficiaries from sexual harassment and abuse.
Oxfam's safeguarding and related policies
Code of Conduct
Oxfam GB is working towards a world in which people can live with dignity, have their basic needs met and their basic rights respected, and have the ability to control their own lives. To achieve this ambition and vision of 'a just world without poverty', it is vital for those who work with Oxfam GB to remain true to its core mission, aims and values. Staff and non-staff alike need to understand and comply with the guidance on behaviour that is expected of them in the areas of:
- use of information and resources,
- ensuring the safety, health and welfare of other employees, volunteers and contractors at Oxfam,
- ensuring personal and professional conduct is, and is seen to be, of the highest standard, and in keeping with Oxfam GB's beliefs, values, and aims. This section of the Code of Conduct includes guidance on prevention of sexual exploitation.
- avoiding possible conflicts of interest in your personal life with Oxfam GB's work,
- involvement in criminal activities or activities that compromise Oxfam's work,
- refraining from harassment, discrimination, abuse, intimidation, or sexual exploitation.
Download Oxfam's Code of Conduct for staff (.pdf)
Download Oxfam's Code of Conduct for non-staff (.pdf)
Disclosure of Malpractice in the Workplace Policy
At Oxfam GB, it is vital that everyone who works for us maintains the highest standards of conduct, integrity and ethics, and complies with local legislation. If an employee, volunteer, partner, consultant or contractor has any genuine concerns about malpractice in the workplace, we wish to encourage them to communicate these without fear of reprisals and in the knowledge that they will be protected from victimisation and dismissal.
Download Oxfam's Disclosure of Malpractice in the Workplace Policy (.pdf)
It is the responsibility of all representatives of Oxfam GB to raise any concerns they have or those which are reported to them. It is not their responsibility to decide whether or not misconduct has occurred. It is their responsibility to report suspicions of misconduct in a confidential and timely manner.
Download Oxfam's Reporting Misconduct Standard Operating Procedure
Whistleblowing: Independent confidential hotline
Oxfam GB offers an independent, third party whistleblowing hotline and case management system for use by anyone connected to our work: this includes people we work to support, staff, volunteers, partners and supporters. Anyone using this system can remain anonymous. This is in addition to our current internal safeguarding system.
In all cases where the survivor/ complainant wishes to remain anonymous without fear of retribution, and you cannot access ethicspoint, report directly to email@example.com or telephone below. Cases will be referred to the appropriate team to investigate.
Official warning from the Charity Commission to Oxfam GB following failures after Haiti response in 2011 and in safeguarding from 2011 to 2017
The Charity Commission on 11 June 2019 ended its Statutory Inquiry into Oxfam GB with the issue of its Report and an Official Warning against Oxfam GB, as a "sanction for past failures". The Warning will remain on Oxfam GB's records with the Commission for a year.
The Warning refers to "regulatory action under section 84 of the Charities Act to direct action expedient in the interests of the charity" - this is a reference to the Directions which the Commission issued on 10 June. It's usual practice for the Commission to issue Directions at the end of a Statutory Inquiry and in issuing the Directions to Oxfam GB the Commission noted that Oxfam GB had already taken significant steps to remedy matters raised by the Commission. Under the Directions Oxfam GB must submit to the
Commission by 30 June an action plan for the Commission's approval. This plan will set out what further steps Oxfam GB will take by the end of March 2020 to implement the outstanding Ineqe recommendations, improve elements of risk management and assurance in Trading and implement relevant matters from the recommendations and findings of the Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture.
The Charity Commission's Summary Findings and Conclusions (pg 13) note that (in March 2018) Oxfam GB commissioned Jim Gamble QPM as independent reviewer, supported by a team of safeguarding experts from the Ineqe Safeguarding Group, to conduct an independent review into our safeguarding, both historically and as at March 2018. The Ineqe independent safeguarding review was supervised by the Commission and overseen by Kate Gallafent QC. The Commission has published the independent review's executive summary and recommendations alongside its own report. With the
consent of the Commission, and in the interests of full transparency, Oxfam GB is now publishing Ineqe's full report. The report sets out in detail Ineqe's methodology, evidence base and findings - giving context to the 79 recommendations Ineqe made for improving Oxfam GB's safeguarding arrangements.
The independent review's findings and recommendations were based on engagement with Oxfam GB between March and September 2018. The report therefore doesn't reflect progress made by Oxfam since then.
It was approved for publication by Kate Gallafent QC, Chair of the Independent Review on Monday 17 June 2019.
INEQE FINAL Oxfam GB Report 2019