(Ottawa) – Oxfam Canada welcomes and accepts the findings and recommendations of the final report of the Independent Commission on Safeguarding, Accountability and Culture Change. The Commission was established by Oxfam in February 2018 as part of our 10-Point Action Plan.
The Commission reviewed Oxfam’s reporting mechanisms and processes around safeguarding as well as looking at the culture of the organization and how power imbalances might be contributing to misconduct.
The report points to weaknesses in Oxfam’s reporting mechanisms, safeguarding process failures, accountability gaps and organizational culture challenges. At the same time, the Commission recognizes the progress that has been made by Oxfam to strengthen its approach to safeguarding and the organization’s “tremendous will, energy, and commitment to reform.”
Since February 2018, the Commission notes that Oxfam has taken important steps, including but not limited to new confederation-wide prevention of sexual misconduct and child protection policies, standard operating procedures for reporting misconduct and a single Oxfam-wide safeguarding network. The report also notes that Oxfam has recently developed its first survivor supporter guidelines and is working together with partners to build their capacity to address and prevent misconduct. In addition, Oxfam has strengthened our annual performance review approach to ensure that all staff support our values, code of conduct and leadership expectations, and increased training and developed better recruitment policies.
In addition to deepening Oxfam’s commitment to priorities already underway, we will:
- Launch a new “Global Integrity Fund” to help strengthen the safeguarding capacities of local civil society organizations working on the front lines;
- Boost our own safeguarding capacity and resources in the most fragile and challenging environments in which we operate; and
- Establish two new global senior leadership roles of Chief Ethics Officer and Culture Lead.
“The Commission says that Oxfam has taken an important step in being publicly committed to change and transparent in its work. I’m heartened that it says we have the potential to support the transformation of the wider sector. But it has given a strong warning that we should not under-estimate the task ahead of us – and I can assure everyone, we absolutely do not,” said Winnie Byanymia, Executive Director of Oxfam International.
Oxfam Canada’s work is guided by feminist principles, which were developed collaboratively by Oxfam Canada staff, and is deeply committed to the important internal and institutional work that must be done to prevent and address sexual misconduct and transform our organizational culture. As an organization that puts women’s rights at the heart of everything it does, we also recognize the importance of addressing the unequal power dynamics that leave women vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in the first place. That is why at Oxfam Canada, while investing in our internal policies and organizational change, we will continue to build on the best of our work to support women’s leadership around the world, combat attitudes that tolerate violence against women and girls and ensure that women can escape the poverty and conflict that make them vulnerable.
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Notes to Editors:
- Oxfam set up the Independent Commission in February 2018 and gave it a full mandate – independently and publicly – to investigate its work and highlight what more Oxfam needed to do to improve our safeguarding practices and transform our culture. Information on the Independent Commission is available here.
- Oxfam’s 10-Point Action Plan to transform its working culture and improve its collective systems of safeguarding policies and practices is available here.
- Oxfam Canada’s policies and Code of Conduct are here.