Statement on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Updated February 20, 2018

Relief International is committed to protecting the safety, security and dignity of each and every beneficiary, employee, contractor, intern, volunteer, client, partner or other individual associated with our organization.

We are deeply concerned by recent reports of sexual misconduct among humanitarian aid organizations and among a wide swath of industries as revealed by the #MeToo movement.  We want to assure our supporters and stakeholders that Relief International is committed to swift action against these and other offenses, and that we have appropriate mechanisms in place to detect and discipline them.

Relief International is committed to creating a safe and ethical workplace.  We maintain a vigorous suite of policies designed to thwart sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment; safeguard children and beneficiaries; encourage the reporting of misconduct; ban gifts and bribes, and regulate other elements essential to an ethical workplace. We require each and every employee to sign these policies when they join RI and to undergo training on them during orientation. As part of the hiring process, RI also requires three supervisory references and asks whether the candidate has ever been subject to such accusations and whether the candidate is rehirable.

We engage organization-specific strategies to prevent and take swift action through appropriate mechanisms in response to harassment, exploitation and abuse and other allegations. All allegations receive an initial review for credibility, and are then investigated by staff or consultants with appropriate expertise. Consequences are applied as appropriate, depending on the nature of the policy violation and may range from refresher training to loss of employment. Cases involving beneficiaries are reported to authorities unless this would expose them to further harm.

Relief International strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment of any kind, including discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion, citizenship, political activity or affiliation, marital status, age, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition (as defined by applicable state and federal law), veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex or gender (which includes harassment and discrimination based on gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), taking or requesting statutorily protected leave, or any other characteristics protected under applicable national, regional, or local laws.

Over the years, RI has developed reporting mechanisms for specific violations. We began streamlining that process at the end of 2017 and will launch a single-channel reporting mechanism in the spring of 2018. The consolidated reporting mechanism is supported by a clear and thorough Incident Reporting Policy and Management System, reviewed and approved by the RI Board of Directors. In addition, a member of our Board of Directors fills the role of Ombudsperson to which any individual may report a violation if they feel the incident management process has not been thorough or fair.

During Q2 2018, RI will support the new Incident Reporting Policy and Management System with a "Policy Week" that will provide refresher training for all RI employees on safeguarding policies, sexual harassment prevention, ethics, fraud prevention, and the new reporting mechanism.

RI also maintains a Safeguarding Steering Committee, the structure and responsibilities of which will be reviewed and reaffirmed in 2018. We will also add mandatory safeguarding and financial crimes policies to the due diligence protocol followed by our field teams prior to hiring sub-contractors or signing partnerships.

 

For more information, please contact Global Communications Manager Michele Kayal at [email protected].