The CIoF has concluded that there have been clear organisational failings in its handling of sexual harassment allegations, and announced a new independent review.
The CIoF’s board of trustees has today (26 August) published its report into allegations that a member breached its Code of Conduct, finding that the behaviour was sexual harassment, and sharing that this member has now been permanently excluded as a fellow of the organisation, and banned from all future events.
A new independent review
In the report, in response to the complaint that the former CEO Peter Lewis and the Institute failed to act on a complaint of sexual harassment in 2014, the CIoF board said that it did not feel there was not sufficient evidence available at the time to conclude definitively what happened. However, all of the evidence that it now holds as a result of its investigations will go to the independent review for consideration.
HR consultancy Tell Jane, which had been working with the organisation on the investigations, will no longer be involved. It has also decided to withdraw its reporting helpline service. While the two organisations have ‘agreed to an amicable parting of ways’, the report states that Tell Jane has been disappointed with how the Chartered Institute has handled the process, including the communication with the survivors and a lack of support.
Apologies for mistakes
Along with the report, the CIoF has published an open letter from interim Chair Nadine Campbell, which outlines its findings, and apologises for the organisation’s mistakes.
“My fellow trustees and I would like to share our deepest apologies for the mistakes that have been made over many years, and in particular to the survivors and allies who have fought so hard and participated in a process which was much more difficult and challenging for them than it should have been due to our failures.”
In the open letter, Campbell also says that the Board apologises for the wording of a June 2021 statement that stated there was no wrongdoing by former CEO Peter Lewis, and that as CEO during the relevant period, he bears responsibility, along with trustees and the staff involved, for not taking action sooner in tackling the cultural and organisational failings.
Actions implemented to address failings
In addition to the independent review, actions implemented to address the failings set out in the letter include:
- a new central screening process that will ensure that anyone who has been suspended or expelled due to an investigation cannot participate as a speaker or delegate
- recruitment for a new Head of Professional Conduct which is currently live
- a Safeguarding and Whistleblowing Trustee with oversight of the complaints process and safeguarding work.
More details on the review are to be announced in due course.
Responses to CIoF report & open letter
In response to the report and open letter, fundraising consultant and CIoF fellow Beth Upton said that she had made the complaint earlier this year “both against both a Fellow and against CIoF staff who knew about the actions of this Fellow and failed to act, repeatedly, over a number of years.”
In her statement, she draws attention to a line in the report stating that her complaint was “not recognised or treated a separate complaint”, stating that:
As such, she said she welcomed the news of an independent review but was disappointed in the lack of firm detail currently offered, adding:
“As soon as possible” is not enough. I am concerned about a lack of capacity within the organisation, both at a trustee and staff level. In early July, the newly-appointed interim Chair promised round tables over the Summer so that members could be heard. On 1st September most people will be heading into the Autumn and just five days of “summer” remain… with no dates yet been set to hear from members.”
Her full statement can be read here.
Again on LinkedIn, Mandy Johnson, former Chair of the CIoF’s London Committee who has also challenged the Chartered Institute on its handling of sexual harassment complaints, also gave her response. She said she still had questions over the proceedings of the last few months, but was relieved to know that the CIoF member had now been held to account for his actions and that there would be an independent review:
“I hope that this is the start of sexual predators no longer being welcome within the fundraising sector and its Chartered Institute.
“Getting to this point has been a long and gruelling experience for many victims, survivors and allies…and we are still not at the finish line. CIOF has announced yet another independent review. This is both needed and appreciated, not only so that complaints against the previous CEO can be investigated but also so that people can feel safe attending CIOF events.”
Johnson’s full statement can be read here.