NCVO announces initiative to explore power & integrity in sector

Melanie May | 17 May 2022 | News

NCVO has launched a new initiative to examine the negative impact power structures can have in the sector, and help voluntary organisations develop approaches that embody integrity.

Founded and led by organisational integrity consultant Alex Cole-Hamilton, Power & Integrity will be run by eight independent experts, and hosted by NCVO for 12-18 months. After this, the intention is for it to become an independent nonprofit organisation.

With approaches to integrity, such as safeguarding, anticorruption, and antibullying for example, often managed by separate teams, PI will explore how voluntary organisations can build a stronger picture of how they may cause harm and adopt an approach to organisational integrity that cuts instead across all areas of work.

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Learnings will be shared on an open-source basis, and in the first stage will see a pilot cohort of up to 5 organisations run power labs, conduct research and test approaches. Organisations can apply to take part and will be selected through an open recruitment process, with The Oak Foundation supporting the power lab to enable organisations to take part at little or no cost. Recruitment will start later this month.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, project lead at Power & Integrity, commented on the launch:

“Power & Integrity is an open-source initiative which aims to cultivate shared learning within the voluntary sector to understand and address the relationship between power and organisational integrity.

 

“However good our intentions, non-profit organisations reflect society’s deep inequalities. For years, nonprofits and others have analysed power to address societal inequalities. But we have failed to understand that inequality is reflected in our own organisations. By taking a holistic approach to understand and address how power manifests in our missions, strategies, culture and ways of working, we can reduce harm and work with more integrity.

 

“Our preliminary findings identify that seemingly separate aspects of integrity have overlapping root causes. We also find that a whole-system approach to integrity, informed by power analysis, could not only address pervasive forms of inequality and harm within organisations, but also could result in strengthened oversight, strategy, and risk management.

 

“Our journey will take time. Integrating power-sensitive practice requires continuous learning and diverse perspectives to develop shared understanding. By learning collectively, our aim is to establish a strong foundation for organisations to strengthen their integrity, and ultimately their impact. By sharing our learning openly, our hope is that the whole sector can benefit. We’re inviting organisations and individuals to be part of this pioneering work. We hope you join the journey to support our sector to achieve its goals with integrity.”

Dan Francis, lead consultant at NCVO, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Alex and the Power & Integrity team on this vital issue. As an organisation which has experienced failings and challenges similar to the issues being examined, we are happy to be able to host the group’s work and share our learning with them. We hope to learn from their work too and we believe PI will help support continued efforts for an equitable and inclusive NCVO and wider charity sector.”