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BBC publishes extracts from a 2015 confidential report -Statement from Save the Children UK

London, March 7, 2018 - Today the BBC published extracts from a confidential report prepared in 2015 for Save the Children UK. This was one of two confidential reviews of behaviour and culture in the charity at the time.

They were commissioned by the Trustees following complaints from staff. The Trustees took these complaints extremely seriously.  External lawyers were brought in to assess the handling of the complaint processes and the experts reported in to a subcommittee of the Trustees.  This did not include Sir Alan Parker, then chairman of the UK Board of Trustees.

Save the Children UK did not publish the two review reports, which contained confidential information about the complainants. However, now that one of the reports is partially available in the public domain, we have chosen to make both sets of recommendations public to ensure there is a full picture of the situation at the time and the actions taken since.

The findings and recommendations of the two independent reviews were as follows.

In relation to historic complaints, the principal findings were:

  • Save the Children UK’s policies and procedures were fit for purpose;
  • There were significant omissions and failures in HR response to historic informal complaints around behaviour;
  • There existed a management culture that did not sufficiently adhere to established and published policies and procedures;
  • Save the Children UK failed in its obligations to adequately deal with issues raised in respect of inappropriate behaviour through its disciplinary procedures;
  • These omissions and failures did not necessarily alter the outcome.

In relation to the culture review, the principal findings were:

  • Save the Children UK appears to have, overall, a positive workplace culture;
  • However, there were significant employee engagement issues;
  • There was evidence of uncomfortable and/or unsafe behaviour towards colleagues at Save the Children UK.

The key recommendations were that the leadership (Board and Executive) of Save the Children UK needed to ‘own’ the charity’s culture, in particular by:

  • acknowledging current cultural issues;
  • providing leadership in defining fundamental questions of Identity, purpose and standards;
  • prioritising people and culture issues and oversee the implementation of an effective plan to strengthen culture;
  • instigating and participating in facilitated workshop on Save the Children UK culture.

It was also recommended that:

  • each head of department/division develop their own plan with CEO and HR to strengthen culture;
  • there be a move from online training modules on the Code of Conduct to annual interactive group training for staff;
  • the HR Department be periodically trained in their own policies and procedures; and
  • an anonymous whistle-blowing hotline be introduced.

Since 2015 significant progress has been made in workplace culture at Save the Children UK.  This includes but is not limited to every member of staff receiving mandatory training in ‘respect in the workplace’ and the establishment of an ‘integrity hotline’ which has been set up to enable staff to report confidentially any complaints about the behaviour of colleagues. Senior leadership workshops have taken place specifically addressing standards of good, acceptable behaviour and culture in the workplace, devised and delivered by independent advisers.

All new recruits to Save the Children UK now receive coaching and advice on the values of the organisation and how these are delivered in the work place.

The recommendations and progress made in the last 24 months will form the basis of a review which by Dr Suzanne Shale, an international expert in organisational ethics, which was recently announced. The review has been commissioned in response to recent concerns in the sector.

Save The Children UK has asked Dr Shale to lead a fully independent team in a review of its workplace culture.

Dr Shale has said: “The Independent Review team acknowledges that past events may have caused distress to staff, and disquiet amongst those who support the work of the charity.  We will listen to those accounts very carefully and with utmost consideration. The team also hopes to find existing ways of working which are collaborative, inclusive and supportive, and which can be emulated across the organisation.

“Save the Children UK does extraordinary humanitarian work, and a positive and constructive workplace culture is critical if staff are to advance this cause to the very best of their abilities.”

A spokesperson for Save The Children said: “The current independent review will draw on recommendations and the experience of implementation from past reviews and the impact of actions arising from them.  It will also provide an opportunity for those who wish to share their previous experiences and concerns so that we can ensure that what caused them hurt in the past cannot be repeated. Save the Children is determined to do more to become a really excellent place to work in order to reach over 22 million vulnerable children a year in 62 countries, including the UK.”                                                               




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