Children England comments on the report from ACEVO and Centre for Mental Health In Plain Sight: Workplace bullying in charities and the implications for leadership

Children England is very grateful to ACEVO, Centre for Mental Health and all the charity staff and volunteers who shared their experiences of workplace bullying for this report. It’s clear that unacceptable emotional abuse is taking place in some charities, perpetrated by individuals but often perpetuated by structures specific to our sector. What makes us strong – our visionary founders, our unique governance model, our outward focus on beneficiaries – should not come at the expense of any individual’s wellbeing, within or beyond our organisational management structures.

We welcome all the report’s recommendations, and particularly urge a robust challenge to the use of Non-disclosure agreements, which the Women and Equalities Committee has this week condemned for covering up allegations of misconduct and preventing victims from obtaining meaningful redress. As children’s charities and advocates know too well, when people feel silenced they are less likely to disclose problems in the first place, making it very difficult to protect them from abusive people and behaviour. Non-disclosure agreements, whatever their specific content, have an inherently silencing effect that inhibits whistle blowing. 

The report poses tough questions for charity staff and trustees alike, but ACEVO is right to call for an honest sector discussion of workplace culture. If we really are the sector that sees and nurtures the best in people, we need to build cultures that enable this – and there are plenty of examples to help us, from charities both large and small.

We’re ready to join the discussion, and to encourage all children’s charities to participate in what must be a wholehearted and collective effort to make our sector a genuinely, and sustainably, supportive place to work.