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Report reveals sexual harassment at Chartered Institute of Fundraising

This news post is 12 months old

Reform of the body's governance structure is underway

An investigation has found that a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF) had sexually harassed unnamed individuals.

The body said the individual has been “immediately and permanently expelled as a member; removed as a fellow of the Chartered Institute; and banned from all future Chartered Institute events.”

The investigation said the sexual harrassment dated back to 2012 and occurrred at various locations and events and in one instance involved a member of the institute.

And in an about turn, the institute has said its wording was wrong in finding former CEO Peter Lewis not guilty of wrongdoing after an internal investigation which concluded in June.

Trustees and senior menagement have shouldrered swingeing criticism from staff, members and organisations that serious concerns and complaints had fallen on deaf ears under the previous leadership.

In June, the CIoF published findings from an independent report into allegations that the organisation’s former chief executive had been told of a sexual assault at a CIoF event in 2014, but had failed to act on the information.

The report, conducted by HR agency Tell Jane, was not published, but the CIoF announced the investigation had found no wrongdoing by Peter Lewis, who left the organisation on that month, having announced his plans to step down in March.

In an open letter to members, Nadine Campbell, interim chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, has apologised 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."

She said: “Harassment, discrimination and bullying of any kind is completely unacceptable and we are committed to taking strong action to tackle these issues and to provide a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.

“We have also reflected on the investigation into the outcome of the complaint that the former CEO and/or the Institute did not act on an allegation of sexual harassment in 2014.

“The board feels that there was not sufficient evidence available at the time to conclusively determine what happened. The board is commissioning a new independent review which will include evidence that is now available from the main investigation.

This new independent review will focus on the wider issue of concerns, reports and complaints of sexual harassment not being acted upon appropriately over time by the Chartered Institute. More details of this review will be made available as soon as possible.”

As part of addressing its organisational failures and past mistakes, the board said it wanted to apologise for the wording of the statement made in June 2021 that there was ‘no wrongdoing by Peter Lewis’, former CEO of the Chartered Institute.

“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,” Campbell said.  

She added: “We know things have gone wrong, and that our processes, policies, and culture meant that survivors and complainants have not been supported properly.

“We are deeply sorry to them for this and in particular for the lack of action in response to repeated patterns of behaviour, reported over time by more than one individual.”

"We recognise that members have been waiting some time to hear from us on the conclusions of this investigation and will be frustrated on how long it has taken to communicate with you about this.

"The reason is that during the process additional evidence came to light which had to be considered and with a complex case going back many years, there were a number of people who we needed to keep informed and communicate with appropriately.

"Changes made to our processes will mean that future investigations will be better managed and supportive for everyone involved."

The Institute said it will have new leadership this year with both a new chief executive and chair, supported by new trustees.



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