Ethics & Policies

Mercy Corps' commitment to ethics, inclusion, diversity and safeguarding

Our organizational culture

Mercy Corps works to build a better world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, free of exploitation, harassment and bias. Toward that end, we have made it a global priority to assess — and where necessary strengthen — our culture, policies and procedures related to gender, diversity and inclusion, as well as sexual misconduct in any form. We are committed to creating an inclusive, psychologically and physically safe and accountable work environment where every voice is respected and heard. Getting this right is critical to achieving our vision for transformational change.

Improving gender diversity and inclusion

At Mercy Corps, we believe we’re at our best when we bring the full diversity of our identities, experiences and perspectives together to tackle the world’s complex challenges. Achieving this takes hard work and determined effort. Our multi-year Gender, Diversity and Inclusion initiative ensures broad ownership across the organization and in our programs. We are committed to strengthening our culture and identifying steps to building an even more inclusive work environment.

Our commitment to safeguarding

Mercy Corps is committed to protecting our program participants, partners, and team members from all forms of physical and emotional abuse and sexual harm. We have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct or exploitation of any kind. When issues arise, we are committed to putting survivors first, providing them with the support they need, and a safe, supportive place to report their concerns. Our approach to safeguarding is founded on three pillars:

  • Prevention through effective policies, mainstreaming safeguarding into our culture, safe hiring, onboarding and management;
  • A robust, survivor centered, response system; and
  • Using data and lessons learned to reflect and adapt in order to continually strengthen our commitment to safeguarding.

Over the past two years we have strengthened our policies on preventing trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse, and internal sexual harassment. Our goal is to continually update these policies to ensure they are effective and relevant, go beyond industry standards and donor requirements, and take emerging best practice into account.

We have developed a suite of educational and training tools, including plain language policy guidance and elearn courses that have been translated into multiple languages and are mandatory for all team members. To further ensure that our safeguarding efforts are mainstreamed globally, we are in the process of establishing a network of safeguarding focal points and trained co-investigators in every country where we operate. These positions will be in-country resources for safeguarding, working with team members to build trust and confidence in our reporting mechanisms. Training will include survivor-centered approaches to incident response, international safeguarding standards, community and team member reporting, and preventative safeguarding measures.

Reporting and Whistleblower protection

Mercy Corps provides multiple avenues for team members, participants and community members to confidentially report concerns, including an Integrity Hotline email address (integrityhotline@mercycorp.org) and an independent, third party reporting platform. This platform allows for anonymous reporting and can be accessed online at http://mercycorps.org/integrityhotline or by phone in most countries where we operate. Our dedicated, independent Ethics Team, staffed by trained, professional investigators, manages these platforms and oversees investigations. We are committed to timely, thorough and impartial investigations.

In addition to the integrity hotlines, we are investing in improving and expanding our Community Accountability and Reporting Mechanisms (CARM) system globally to cover all of the countries where we work. As we continue to raise awareness of our ethical policies and reporting avenues, we are committed to ensuring we have the necessary resources to quickly and thoroughly follow up on all allegations.

We are committed to ensuring protection for whistleblowers and a safe, confidential, and survivor-centered reporting process.

Hiring and onboarding

We are committed to the continued strengthening of our application, interview, reference and onboarding processes. We have implemented processes and procedures for vetting new team members including safeguarding-screening questions for both candidates and references.

Team members who are terminated for engaging in sexual misconduct or exploitation are ineligible for rehire at Mercy Corps. We will inform any employer who seeks a reference or employment check from us that this is the case.

Mercy Corps’ ongoing commitment

We know that policies have to be more than words on paper. It's what we do with them that will determine whether they are effective. At Mercy Corps, we are committed to ensuring that safeguarding and our diversity and inclusion efforts receive the appropriate time, attention and dedicated resources to be effective.

We are also committed to collaborating with our diverse stakeholders, to advocate for reforms that address the systemic power imbalances that perpetuate violence and abuse, and to increasing trust and transparency within our sector.

Key policies