In plain sight

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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. 

 

"Recommendations: 1. Charities should nominate at least one trustee and one senior manager to lead on staff workplace wellbeing. 2. Policies, procedures and practices should reflect charities’ commitment to promoting safe cultures. 3. Non-Disclosure Agreements should never be issued so as to restrict a victim of bullying from disclosing traumatic experience in a therapeutic setting. See full report for full recommendations.

 

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:

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