Oxfam's work against abuse
As an organisation that works with people in vulnerable situations, our top priority is to ensure everyone's safety, and that no one is subjected to abuse of power or other abuse in contact with us. That's why we have robust procedures and policies in place that all Oxfam employees must follow.
In the last 5 years, Oxfam has tripled its budget for safeguarding, which includes measures to protect the health, well-being and human rights of individuals, and to prevent abuse, harassment and assault.
We have safeguarding focal points in all countries where Oxfam operates, and have increased the number of specialists working on the issue. Oxfam staff, volunteers and partners receive mandatory training on employment and ongoing support. We have strengthened our recruitment process with stricter checks on those we employ and reinforced our internal whistleblowing system. Oxfam has also increased the support available to people who have been abused.
As part of our work, Oxfam reports every six months on the progress made in improving prevention and detection efforts, and publishes global case data for that period. The reports also include progress in other areas that are critical to ensuring a safe and inclusive workplace for the people we serve, our staff, partners and other stakeholders.
In addition, we are aware that throughout the organisation we must live as we learn. By examining our own attitudes and behaviours, and the power structures that exist, our values can permeate everything we do.
We believe that only by being open and transparent about the problem can we address it - no organisation can ever say it is free from the risk of abuse and harassment, but we will continue to take responsibility for how we manage these risks and for responding quickly when incidents do occur; and for providing survivors with the right support at every stage.
We are committed to transparency and will continue to report regularly on our progress. Oxfam's hope is that our work not only makes our organisation safer, but that the whole industry is continually learning and improving, and that in doing so we can be an inspiration to others.
Read more about the different parts of our work by clicking on the different headings.
To ensure that all staff understand and share our values, our recruitment processes now include more mandatory questions on values, safeguarding and feminist principles. We have also introduced initiatives to raise awareness and understanding among staff of how they can challenge bad behaviour, including bullying and harassment.
We have improved our understanding and management of the risks that come with our fieldwork, to ensure that all those affected by our programmes can participate safely. The approach, called Safe Programming, includes training and tools for staff and partners, but also ongoing research within the communities we work.
Safeguarding training is mandatory for all Oxfam staff, and all staff and volunteers must sign our Code of Conduct when they start working for us.
In recent years, we have strengthened our internal whistleblowing system, which is now available in five languages. All employees are encouraged to use this system at the slightest suspicion of wrongdoing. There are clear processes and structures in place for people to report suspected irregularities anonymously and procedures for how they will be received and investigated.
Ensuring that survivors of abuse can report abuse in confidence, and that they receive the support they need, is of paramount importance. We want survivors to feel confident about coming forward and reporting allegations, so we have aimed to make the process more accessible and easy to use. The work also includes doing everything we can to protect the confidentiality and safety of survivors and whistleblowers as well as providing medical, social, emotional and other types of support for survivors. Our policies for reporting potential crimes to police and local authorities are also clearer.
In developing the new procedures and processes, Oxfam worked with a reference group including survivors of abuse.
In addition to our internal work, we also work with the wider aid and development sector to stop perpetrators from moving between roles and organisations without being detected and held to account. Oxfam is leading work with other actors to better share information about perpetrators with each other.