Oxfam has hired and trained 119 staff members who will investigate incidents related to the agencies safeguarding efforts around the world as it steps up efforts to improve. Oxfam unveiled a ten-point action plan towards the early part of the year and has increased funding for safeguarding by more than threefold to close to £2 million. Oxfam has also set up a new Independent Commission which is tasked with reviewing the agencies culture and practices.
Response to scandal
Oxfam has launched the new measures in response to the scandal some of its former employees were involved in Haiti whilst working for the aid agency. Those employees have since been fired and starting from October the agency will report data twice a year on all safeguarding cases that have been completed in the previous half year for all organisations that are part of the Oxfam confederation.
Background checks and training
In the United Kingdom all shop managers as well as supervisors paid or unpaid will have to undergo background checks. Some members of the HR teams in the trading unit have also received training which will give them the skills to investigate allegations of safeguarding in Oxfam shops. By the end of the financial year it is anticipated that more than 960 shop staff will have undergone online safeguarding training. The Independent Commission’s first report will be published by May next year and will list a number of recommendations to improve Oxfam’s approach to safeguarding.
The aid agency is also providing training to more than 10,000 employees globally and has introduced more stringent background checks before hiring new staff. There is also a whistle blowing hotline that is managed independently and will be available in five languages that all employees have been encouraged to make use of in complete confidence.
Learning from mistakes
Mark Goldring Oxfam’s UK chief says he is determined that the organisation learns from its mistakes and does everything it can to ensure staff and people are protected. He adds that the measures taken will improve Oxfam’s ability to prevent and investigate any unacceptable behaviour no matter where it takes place. Oxfam is acutely aware there is more to do, including making sure that everyone who is employed or volunteers feels empowered to challenge behaviour they believe is not acceptable.