Employment news

Save the Children UK criticised for ‘serious weaknesses’ in handling workplace harassment allegations

A report by the Charity Commission has criticised Save the Children UK’s handling of harassment allegations. It found “serious failures” in how the charity dealt with allegations of workplace harassment made by staff members against the former chief executive, Justin Forsyth.

Save the Children UK failed consistently to follow its own processes when employees made allegations of inappropriate conduct against Forsyth in 2012 and 2015. The charity’s decision to deal with the complaints informally, rather than to investigate them fully, ran counter to the charity’s own disciplinary procedure

The Charity Commission also criticised weaknesses in workplace culture, noting that the handling of complaints was “so poor in certain respects that it amounted to mismanagement”, and that these allegations, and the way the charity responded, had a “corrosive impact on its internal culture”.

Despite these past failures, the Commission recognised that Save the Children UK has taken steps to improve its workplace culture and respond to an external review’s’ findings of significant problems with employee engagement.

Save the Children UK has “accepted in full” the report’s findings and apologised  “unreservedly” to the women affected.

Commentators have focused on the need for full investigations to be conducted into any complaint of harassment, regardless of the seniority of the individuals involved, and that all procedures follow the organisation’s written policies; and also on the impact such cases have on public trust towards charities more generally, and the reputational damage such cases can cause to those organisations reliant on raising its funds from the public.