Following the #metoo, and subsequent #aidtoo campaign and sexual exploitation abuse within NGO’s, there is pressure on organisations, and the sector as whole, to do better. Protecting beneficiaries and our staff should always be the top priority. It is why and how we exist.
At Thrive Worldwide, it has reinforced our commitment to work alongside organisations to create a healthy and safe working environment. This is imperative for staff to thrive and for organisations to fulfill their purpose.
In this blog post we offer three ways to strengthen your commitment to staff wellbeing and how we can come alongside you to this.
1. Create the right organisational culture
This is prime. Organisational culture, set and expected by senior managers, is critical to mitigating the risk of sexual exploitation. The shared values, beliefs, behaviours and assumptions an organisation has in place will contribute to cases happening in the first place, and secondly how safe staff feel to report.
So how would you define your organisational culture? Would staff agree with the definition your senior management come up with?
To have a thriving and well functioning organisation we must spend more time listening to and focusing on our employees and volunteers!
One aspect to this is improving transparency. Do we have an open culture whereby we are willing to talk about the difficult things and all staff can ask questions of our leaders?
For example; in light of the recent #aidtoo campaign have you held a staff meeting to create a forum to discuss this? Used this as an opportunity to learn to shape your organisations for the future?
2. Proactively offer psychological support for staff
As staff come forward to report their experiences of sexual violence how are you as an organisation proactively offering emotional support? Whether the incident happened 5 years ago or 5 weeks ago, there will be many emotions, and it is important you serve your staff well. Some people who have been through sexual violence can feel particularly isolated because they don’t know what to say or do not how to say it because of skewed power relationships.
To build a thriving organisational culture, it is important that staff know they’ve been listened to and that you care. One way to support staff wellbeing is to have a psychosocial provider available to offer staff counselling. We recommend organisations proactively communicate the psychosocial support and for leadership positively to reinforce this support to reduce stigma and increase accessibility.
Here are a few considerations:
- Do staff know what support is available and how to access it? We recommend that staff don’t have to go through their line manager or HR to access support. Create less barriers.
- Is this support confidential? If yes, reassure staff.
- Are managers confident in how to spots signs of trauma or stress, and comfortable to suggest counselling?
- In our experience, accessing counselling can seem daunting and unfamiliar. Bring in a counsellor to deliver an awareness raising session.
- Is face to face support available? Particularly in the event of sexual violence this is our strong recommendation.
3. Put in place the right safeguarding structures
The framework to protect staff and beneficiaries is Safeguarding. Getting an appropriate and robust policy in place, key people trained and communicating your policy are critical to mitigate your risk and being prepared to respond well.
If you haven’t paused to review Safeguarding in your organisation this year, or even if you have, here are some questions to consider:
When did you last review your Safeguarding policies? | When did you last communicate these policies to staff? | Who is responsible for safeguarding in your organisation? | Did you have an internal review following the last safeguarding incident?
Thrive Worldwide will offer the following services to equip organisations:
- Safeguarding Audit: We will conduct a detailed audit of the safeguarding knowledge and practices of an organisation. This will include a detailed report on strengths, identified gaps and recommendations.
- Safeguarding Policies: We will support the development of safeguarding policies, processes and internal communication materials to help organisations implement appropriate safeguarding practices.
- Safeguarding Advisory Support: We will assign a Thrive consultant to provide expertises and guidance on safeguarding protocols and advisory support services for cases.
- Case Review: An opportunity to review a recent safeguarding case that you and your team responded to. A Thrive consultant will provide external feedback as to how the case was resolved.