Safeguarding improvement plan: Six month update to March 2021

Published: 1st July 2021

Oxfam today publishes its regular six-month update (to March 2021) of its Safeguarding and Culture Improvement Plan that it set up two years ago. The headlines include:

  • Oxfam has a new governance structure, now finalized, that begins July 2021. The Independent Commission we set up in 2018 to review our safeguarding and working culture had also recommended this change. The new governance will help to separate management from governance and promote accountability, diversity and effectiveness. The new Board will have four independent members including as chair. 
  • In its latest rounds of trainings, every staff member across Oxfam around the world is completing a new mandatory safeguarding training course, along with more expert courses for new focal point staff.
  • Of eight new Oxfam-wide safeguarding policies, standards and procedures set up over the past two years – against which every Oxfam entity is now operational and accountable – we have reviewed and improved two in this reporting period. 
  • All Oxfam affiliates are inputting data into a single safeguarding, fraud and misconduct system that tracks cases from inception to closure. Debugging of minor technical issues were completed during the review period.
  • Staff-led culture conversations about care were held, along with refresher trainings to further embed Oxfam’s Code of Conduct. A global survey is about to be rolled-out across the confederation – repeated two yearly – to deepen understanding and improvements in areas such as values, diversity and inclusion, and misconduct.  
  • Advancing Oxfam’s intersectional gender justice approach and ‘being feminist in all we do’ is a key principle of our new Global Strategic Framework which now encompasses all of Oxfam’s work.

As part of its commitment to transparency, Oxfam also publishes safeguarding data every six months. It upheld 19 cases of complaint out of the 43 safeguarding investigations that demanded our action in this review period, dismissing eight staff, disciplining four and taking non-disciplinary action, for example, training, against seven more.

Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said her highest priority since assuming the role in October 2020 has been to ensure Oxfam’s commitment to keep improving its safeguarding systems, with zero tolerance for inaction on any forms of sexual misconduct. 

She said: “Much has changed within Oxfam since 2018. Our overriding priority is to support survivors and their wishes. We are changing our culture to help prevent abuse from happening and to act upon it when it does. We are improving our systems. Where we get things wrong – and we will get things wrong on our journey – we apologize and fix our mistakes.”

Ms Bucher said Oxfam continues to strongly encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed anything they believe to be misconduct, even if they are not sure, or if they are concerned about how a process has been handled, to report including via the independent reporting site, Speak Up.

Notes to editors

Read the regular six-month update (to March 2021) of its Safeguarding and Culture Improvement Plan.

Contact information

Matt Grainger in the UK | | +4407730680837

For updates, please follow @Oxfam

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