Racism, sexism and bullying reported at Oxfam

The work environment at Oxfam is marked by “racism, colonial behaviour and bullying”, staff have reported.

The allegations were made to an independent commission set up in the wake of the Haiti scandal in 2018 to assess the charity’s culture.

30-page report, which details initial findings, reported the charity has a “toxic work environment”.

Oxfam said the report was an “important step” to help “tackle the root causes of abuse”.

In February the charity was accused of covering up claims staff sexually exploited female victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The report found a lack of “robust policies and procedures” led to a culture in which sexual misconduct could be misunderstood or unaddressed.

The Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change (ICSMACC) said staff were also critical of management.

“The commission has heard multiple staff raise concerns of elitism… racism and colonial behaviour… sexism, rigid hierarchies and patriarchy,”

it said.

“Oxfam’s values are printed on wall posters but not always understood or upheld in action, and sometimes are even contradicted.”

‘Lack of accountability’

Staff said the charity’s procedures for dealing with bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct were “deficient”.

Those who raised issues in the past “felt deeply frustrated and saddened at the lack of accountability they experienced”, the report added.

Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International executive director, apologised to those who had experienced abuse.

“This is an important piece of work at a crucial time for us,”

she said.

“We will use its emerging recommendations to bolster our ongoing improvements so that we truly have ‘zero tolerance’ to anyone who would abuse their power over others.”

The commission’s full report will be published in May.

First Published: 17.01.19: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-46910085

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