Over the past few years, humanitarian and development organizations have started developing policies to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (PSEAH) by and of humanitarian and development workers.
While compliance with PSEAH policies and codes of conduct is a crucial first step, senior leaders and managers must cultivate a healthy organizational culture to protect staff and program participants. The time, resources, and energy leaders commit to PSEAH sets the tone for the rest of the organization. It is up to senior leadership to support safeguarding focal points, be transparent about their safeguarding commitments, and take action when people speak out and come forward with complaints.
Although senior leaders are responsible for setting the expectation, safeguarding requires collective commitment from the entire organization. When leaders set expectations, it allows staff members to be part of PSEAH. Each staff member of a non-governmental organization (NGO) must hold each other accountable for behaviors that fuel abusive power dynamics. The most well-intentioned safeguarding policies will not have the desired impact without a collective commitment from every member of the organization.
Below are resources to help NGO management and staff create an organizational culture that is diverse and welcoming of all voices:
- Leading on your Organization’s Safeguarding Culture video
- InterAction’s From Pledge to Action project and Blue Seat Studios produced a video encouraging senior leaders of humanitarian and development organizations to promote a culture of safeguarding.
- Culture of Safeguarding Facilitation Guide
- InterAction created a facilitation guide to promote conversations between PSEAH focal points and senior leadership around promoting a culture of safeguarding. The session will give CEOs and other senior leaders the opportunity to reflect on their approach to safeguarding, culture, and accountability.
- CARE: PSEAH Workplace Culture Toolkit
- InterAction funded CARE’s Workplace Culture Toolkit through a subgrant, which includes facilitator guidelines, sample workshop agendas, and guidelines designed to help organizations address harmful power dynamics and challenge engrained discriminatory attitudes.
- Your Role in PSEAH Session
- InterAction designed this session to: (1) help staff gain a deeper understanding of PSEAH, (2) develop an understanding of how PSEAH is integral to your organization’s mission and work, and (3) help staff begin to see a connection between your organization’s mission and their work.
- IASC Facilitators’ Guide: A session on values, attitudes and organisational culture in relation to prevention of sexual misconduct (Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment)
- The Inter-Agency Standing Council’s (IASC) facilitators’ guide to a two-hour session provides managers and leaders with guidance on how to create a work environment based on “respect, inclusion, and accountability.”
- UNHCR and IASC: A Selection of Promising Practices on Organizational Culture Change
- UNHCR published a collection of initiatives working to address organizational culture and root out the underlying causes of SEAH. In this collection, you will find guidelines for facilitated discussions, workshop agendas, online questionnaires, and interactive videos.
- Bond’s Developing and Modeling a Positive Safeguarding Culture: A Tool for Leaders
- Bond created an online tool to help leaders improve organizational culture and to develop a plan of action to mitigate the risk of SEAH. The tool is meant to be used as a catalyst for honest conversation and discussion around establishing a positive safeguarding culture.
Implementing PSEAH policies and codes of conduct is an essential first step in preventing sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment. However, a healthy safeguarding culture is necessary for every staff member to feel safe at work and for every program participant to feel safe receiving aid.