In plain sight
Workplace bullying in charities and the implications for leadership
Rob Fitzpatrick and Laura Thorne
10 June 2019
Following revelations over recent years about exploitation and abusive organisational cultures within the charity sector, there has been a rise in public and political concern about the possibility of misconduct taking place within charities, including bullying behaviour.
In Plain Sight: Workplace bullying in charities and the implications for leadership shines a light on the experiences of people who have been bullied in a charity workplace. It highlights the emotional harm it causes, making six recommendations to create safer systems, processes and cultures.
The report explores the experiences of people who responded to a survey about bullying in charity workplaces. While the report does not make any estimate about the prevalence of workplace bullying in charities, or how this compares with other types of workplace, it is clear from the report that it has been taking place in plain sight.
This research was funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and produced as a collaboration between ACEVO, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, and Centre for Mental Health. It focuses on the impact of the bullying, who was responsible for it and the responses by organisations and regulators to reports of bullying. It is not possible from the research to draw conclusions about the prevalence of bullying or how rates of bullying compare to other sectors.
The research finds that bullying is linked to gaps or shortcomings in governance and management and it therefore needs an organisation-wide response.
Please note: Many of the personal accounts in the report are clearly deeply felt and can be upsetting to read. Below are a list of freely available information and resources for anyone who may have been affected by issues and experiences raised in this report:
- Leading with Values: Creating a Safe Organisational Culture - A report from ACEVO highlighting key elements of leadership for the Charity Sector for addressing unacceptable, abusive or bullying behaviour
- The Charity Commission’s work to prevent wrongdoing and harm in charities
- The Anti-Bullying Alliance Umbrella group providing resources for bullying in both school and adult settings
- Information and resources from the Tim Field Foundation about workplace bullying
- ACAS Information and advice on employment rights and bullying at work.
- Equality and Human Rights Commission information relating to rights and dignity at work
- TUC online Support, advice for anyone being bullied at work
- Protect (Formerly Public Concern at Work) Independent authority and advice line on whistle blowing.
- Information about safety in the workplace, with links to articles covering bullying, discrimination and employment law.
- Information and support around the subject of workplace bullying from Bullying UK/Family Lives
- The Samaritans - or telephone 116 123.
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