‘A number’ of bullying and discrimination complaints upheld at NCVO

28 Sep 2021 News

NCVO has upheld “a number” of complaints made by staff regarding harassment and discrimination.

Ten complaints were raised in October last year, in the aftermath of an independent report which concluded that bullying and harassment took place “with impunity” at the organisation.

These complaints were investigated to ensure that “any unresolved incidents” highlighted in the report “were properly addressed”, NCVO said in a statement this afternoon. 

NCVO said that it would not give an exact number for the complaints upheld as this “would not be appropriate or possible given the individual legal rights of those involved”.

The charity said that, where complaints have been upheld, it is “following internal disciplinary procedures and the process will remain confidential”. NCVO declined to say whether any disciplinary action has already been taken, or what form any future action could take, but stated that its procedures “are consistent with those used by many organisations”.

Independent investigation into complaints 

In March and April, NCVO appointed independent investigators to look into the complaints, which included accusations of harassment, victimisation, race discrimination and the management of health and safety issues.

That process did not begin until a long-planned restructure at NCVO had been completed.

Today Priya Singh, chair of trustees at NCVO, said: “A number of the complaints have been upheld. The remaining have either not reached a conclusion or were partially upheld.”

'We're sorry'

Singh and Sarah Vibert, interim chief executive of NCVO, both apologised and reiterated commitments to culture change. 

In her statement Singh said: “I would like to apologise on behalf of the board of trustees to everyone who has been harmed as a result of these incidents and by the failings at NCVO. 

“I am sorry for what you have experienced.

“As I have previously stated, we will not accept incidents of bullying, harassment, and discrimination at NCVO. We have begun the process of deep cultural change in our organisation to ensure we can prevent and, when needed, identify and effectively deal with similar incidents should they arise.”

In a blog published at the same time as the update on complaints, Vibert outlined some of the changes made at the charity since the first report, including an overhaul of culture at the organisation and procedural changes such as new whistle-blowing policies. 

Vibert wrote: “My first thoughts are with those individuals who came forward and took part in a long and difficult investigation process. 

“I want to thank you for sharing your experiences and, on behalf of NCVO, I also want to say sorry.”

Actions taken

Vibert also used her blog to list some of the steps NCVO has taken to address the problems identified since 2020. 

This includes the provision of a new whistle-blowing service, closer work with the union, engagement with conversations and events led by NCVO's black and ethnic minority staff network, and work with consultants experienced in healing and trust-building at organisations.

NCVO confirmed it had updated the Charity Commission on the latest findings.

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