Keeping people safe

From constantly improving safeguarding policies to installing solar lights that make refugee camps more secure, keeping people safe is a vital part of our work worldwide.

In recent years, Oxfam has made substantial changes to the way that we approach safeguarding. But we recognize that there is so much more that we need to do, and we are committed to continually learning to make Oxfam a safer place for all.

SAFEGUARDING IN ACTION

Reports on sexual misconduct cases in Haiti have led Oxfam to take a hard look at our past mistakes. We are committed to building a culture that does not tolerate abuse. As part of this commitment, we publish a report every six months on all safeguarding cases we have completed across the Oxfam confederation.

You can read more about Oxfam’s safeguarding cases and our efforts to strengthen safeguarding and culture in the most recent report.

HOW WE ARE KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE

We have continued to strengthen our approach to safeguarding by increasing the number of safeguarding specialist staff. We now have dedicated safeguarding focal points in every country where Oxfam is present, who work with staff and communities. We have been adapting to COVID-19 too - creating online safeguarding training tools to ensure that staff, volunteers, and partners are provided with effective support and training during this period.

But we won't stop there, we recognize that there is so much more to do.

We believe that only by being open and transparent about the problem can we tackle it – no organization can ever say it is free from the risk of abuse and harassment, but we will continue to be accountable in how we manage these risks and respond swiftly when incidents do occur; striving to provide survivors with the right support at every stage.

We know that living our values is every bit as important as what we achieve and we must not lose sight of that. Report misconduct here.

SAFEGUARDING IN OUR WORK

Building and institutionalizing a values-driven culture within Oxfam. Our goal is to ensure that no one faces sexism, discrimination, or abuse – that everyone feels safe speaking out and everyone is clear on what behavior is acceptable or not. This requires ensuring that Oxfam as an organization embraces gender equality, prevents abuses of power, and has zero tolerance of sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation. Oxfam America launched an 18-month Gender Action Learning process and established a Gender Justice & Inclusion Hub to integrate and strengthen gender justice within the organization and in our work.

Put substantially more resources into keeping people safe: Oxfam has doubled the number of staff dedicated to preventing abuse and sexual misconduct and tripled the financial resources devoted to this work. This includes improvements to our system that allows people to report abuse that can be easily used by the communities we serve, and by staff and volunteers. We have strengthened and introduced new safeguarding policies and rolled out an enhanced e-learning courses for staff with greater focus on behaviors, culture, and safeguarding.

Working with our peers across the sector to tackle physical, sexual, and emotional abuse: Oxfam America President & CEO, Abby Maxman, is a champion and co-lead on the CEO Taskforce at InterAction. Abby, along with 140 CEOs, have signed a pledge that includes taking steps to ensure perpetrators cannot be re-employed by other members of the international aid community. Oxfam America has also taken on a leadership and technical advisory role to support safeguarding work happening across the sector.

OXFAM'S SAFEGUARDING AND RELATED POLICIES

Updates

More information

What is Oxfam America’s role in preventing sexual abuse?

Oxfam America is part of the Oxfam confederation, which is made up of more than 20 affiliate organizations. While Oxfam’s commitment to preventing sexual abuse is confederation-wide, Oxfam America President and CEO Abby Maxman is a leader in this work within Oxfam and the aid sector. She is the co-chair of Oxfam International’s Safeguarding Task Force, alongside Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director. Abby is also co-leading the InterAction CEO Task Team on Sexual Harassment and Abuse, which convenes US-based aid organizations. Oxfam America has created three new roles: a Gender Advisor for our DC office, a Senior Safeguarding Specialist, and a Vice President of People, Culture, and Global Human Resources. Oxfam America has also launched an 18-month Gender Action Learning process to integrate and strengthen gender justice within the organization and in our work.

How do people safely report cases of misconduct?

Oxfam America’s safeguarding measures include a confidential whistleblowing mechanism, Clue. Oxfam America has had a whistleblowing system since 2010. This allows staff, volunteers, beneficiaries, donors, and others to confidentially report any cases of misconduct, financial embezzlement, violation of policy, or any other practice inconsistent with Oxfam values. People can make complaints online, via phone, or by mail in English, Spanish, or French. The information on how to access this service is publicly available on our website and posted in all country offices Oxfam America oversees.

Every complaint is promptly investigated by Oxfam America’s Human Resources department and other departments as needed. Depending on the nature of the case, we may hire independent external investigators.

Ethics Violation Reporting

What policies does Oxfam have in place to protect people from sexual harassment and abuse?

Since 2010, Oxfam America has instituted policies for harassment complaints, harassment prevention, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment. These have since been updated annually. In 2011 we added a policy on child protection and prevention of bullying and harassment. These policies are to set the rules of behavior, and staff are obliged to abide by these policies. Oxfam America’s Human Resources department oversees its safeguarding measures. In 2018, Oxfam America reviewed all its policies to assure that they reflect recent changes in context and assure the safety, due process, and protection of our staff, our partners, our beneficiaries, and those who we exist to serve.

Oxfam International polices and codes of conduct.

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