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Stamping out abuse: Information and updates

You will have seen reports of the sexual misconduct of some former Oxfam employees in Haiti in 2011 and in Chad in 2006. We are so sorry for the appalling behaviour that happened in our name.

We are an organisation that fights for women's rights, and that makes this disgraceful behaviour particularly hard to bear.

We want you to know we're doing everything in our power to help stamp out abuse, and we'll be keeping this page updated with information as we continue this vital work.

"There is still much more for us to do." - a letter from Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB.  Read more

"We will learn from these appalling events and we will change" - Caroline Thomson, Chair of Trustees. Read more

Our action plan

If we are to keep people safe today and tomorrow, there can be no half measures. To ensure the safety and dignity of every person we work with and for, Oxfam has introduced a 10-point action plan based on three principles:

  • our commitment to transparency
  • our commitment to transformational change in our culture
  • our commitment to women's rights

You can find our full, detailed action plan here

You can also read the report of the investigation carried out in 2011, into allegations of sexual misconduct in Haiti

Progress on our 10-point plan

Here is the latest progress we've made against each part of the action plan.

  1. Creating an independent high-level 'Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change.'
    • We have launched a commission led by two highly-respected experts on safeguarding and women's rights. They lead a team of experienced individuals from the realms of business, government and civil society. Find out more.
    • The commission will produce an interim report within six months, and will publish their final report and recommendations within 12 months.
  1. Reiterating our commitment across Oxfam to collaborate with all relevant authorities, including regulators and governments.
    • We have reiterated our commitment to comply with the laws and regulations of every country where we operate to our own staff and to external partners, donors and regulators.
    • We are cooperating fully with authorities in Haiti, in the UK and in the home countries of the men involved with the Haiti case.
    • We are cooperating fully with all external enquiries, including the UK Charity Commission's statutory enquiry and the enquiry of the UK Parliament's Select Committee on International Development.
  1. Re-examining past cases, and encouraging other witnesses or survivors to come forward.
    • We want staff to feel safe about reporting concerns, so anyone can contact the Oxfam GB safeguarding unit instead of their own affiliate's system if they wish.
    • Oxfam GB has launched an independent, external whistleblowing hotline in a range of languages. This has been publicised to all staff, and builds on the internal whistleblowing hotline and other reporting mechanisms already in place.
    • We will shortly be able to announce the appointment of an independent safeguarding consultant who will review historical cases of sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation from across the Oxfam confederation.
  1. Increasing our investment in safeguarding with immediate effect
    • We have committed £720,000 to safeguarding - tripling our investment from previous levels.
    • We are in the process of recruiting new safeguarding staff, and we will have double the previous number of specialist leads, alongside safeguarding focal points in every country where we work.
  1. Strengthening internal processes
    • A number of actions are already being taken to improve our internal processes. This includes a central contact for all requests for staff references and accredited referees in every Oxfam organisation. This will help to prevent offenders falsifying references or asking friends to provide them. Cases of gross misconduct, including sexual abuse, will be spelt out in references.
    • We are developing a process to run more thorough and standardised pre-employment checks on new employees. Making a commitment to safeguarding is a mandatory part of the recruitment and selection process and the performance management criteria for all managers.
  1. Re-enforcing a culture of zero tolerance towards harassment, abuse or exploitation
    • Safeguarding focal points have been appointed in every country we work since 2017. We have been running online training sessions for them, and will be bringing in external experts to help us deliver face-to-face training.
    • We are also overhauling the way we induct and train all staff, to ensure they understand the code of conduct and the organisation's safeguarding procedures. Safeguarding training will be mandatory for all current and new staff.
  1. Working with our peers across the sector on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse
    • Chief Executive of Oxfam GB Mark Goldring attended the safeguarding summit in London on 5 March 2018 and has been in discussions with other aid agencies on initiatives for tackling sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation, such as the introduction of humanitarian passports and other types of background checks. 
    • Oxfam GB and other NGOs attending the summit issued this joint statement.
    • We're also in contact with the human resources departments of other humanitarian and development agencies to inform them of steps we're already taking to tighten up our referencing process and, where possible, to align processes in the wider sector.
  1. We will actively engage with partners and allies, especially women's rights organisations
    • We have been sharing updates and responding to questions with many partners and allies around the world, including many women's rights organisations.
    • Our teams in countries around the world have started proactively reaching out to women's rights organisations to hear their views on what Oxfam can do to improve and how we can engage with them more.
  1. Listening to the public
    • Across the world, we've received a huge number of messages from members of the public over the last month. Of course, some have been very negative while others have been very supportive. We're working hard to get back to people personally, and keep records of what people are telling us.
    • We have also decided to engage directly with members of the public over the coming weeks to find out what people think and what they expect from us if we are to retain or regain their trust and support.
  1. Recommitting to and strengthening our focus on gender justice externally
    • We have begun a gender audit of all our campaigning and policy work to understand where and how we can see a significant increase in our focus on gender justice.
    • We have made a commitment to increase resource allocation for the Enough campaign and to increase the percentage of resources contributing to gender justice goals through all our other global campaigns.
    • We are reviewing again the scale of gender justice and women's rights work across our programmes, with a commitment to increase the percentage of investment going to this.

Talk to us

If you would like to talk about how Oxfam is working to stamp out abuse, if you have ideas for how we could do more, or about anything else that you would like to know, please do get in touch.

Call: 0300 200 1300
Email: feedback@oxfam.org.uk
Twitter: @oxfamgb Facebook: facebook.com/oxfamgb

Further information

Safeguarding in our shops 

You may also have seen reports of sexual misconduct in our UK shops dating from before 2014/15. We want you to be assured that the safety of our shop volunteers is of utmost importance to Oxfam.

Find out more about safeguarding in our shops

Our plans, reports and policies

We're committed to being transparent with you. You can access full, detailed policies here, including our safeguarding policies and our Code of Conduct.

Learn more

Our promise to you when you support Oxfam 

This organisation is full of amazing, brave staff and volunteers - dedicated to saving and changing people's lives all over the world. But we can't do any of this without your trust and support.

Read our supporter promise