Mercy Corps' commitment to inclusion, diversity and safeguarding
Our organizational culture
Mercy Corps is committed to building a better world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, free of harassment and bias. Toward that end, in the spring of 2017, we 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. This proactive self-audit and improvement initiative reflects Mercy Corps' firm commitment to an inclusive and safe workplace for our team members around the world.
Improving gender diversity and inclusion
A new Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative is underway, in partnership with outside experts. This multi-year initiative aims to lead to stronger organizational culture, improved policies and processes, while ensuring broad ownership for gender, diversity and inclusion across the organization and in our programs. Mercy Corps is committed to strengthening our culture and identifying steps to building an even more inclusive work environment.
We are working diligently to improve our existing policies and procedures on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, including those on whistleblowing and hotline complaints, anti-sexual harassment, anti-trafficking, prevention of sexual exploitation and child safeguarding - all of which take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct in any form. Our goal is to ensure these stronger policies are effective and relevant, go beyond industry standards and donor requirements, and take emerging best practice into account.
In addition to continuing working on a full suite of board-approved code-of-conduct policies, we are also reassessing our content and approach to training. While we require all employees, consultants and volunteers to complete an online code-of-conduct training annually, our commitment is to update and strengthen the process to include in-person training and opportunities for dialogue throughout the organization.
We have convened a leadership-level working group on training, awareness and related initiatives. We are also incorporating additional ethical decision-making training into leadership events and are working to equip and support team leaders to have regular conversations about safeguarding and misconduct issues.
Hotline reporting and increasing awareness
Over the past two years, we reinforced our global Integrity Hotline and our response to complaints. We have established a dedicated, independent Ethics Team staffed by trained, professional investigators to monitor the hotline and oversee investigations. In addition to the global hotline, we increased the number of Community Accountability and Reporting Mechanisms (CARM) to cover all or part of the countries where we work. We are investing in improving and expanding our CARM systems globally. As we seek and push for additional reporting, we are committed to increasing the necessary resources to ensure we are able to quickly and thoroughly follow up on all allegations.
Increasing awareness around our global hotline is also a priority. We have developed and distributed a quick guide on reporting sexual misconduct. Our chief executive officer and senior leaders are reinforcing Mercy Corps’ commitment to a workplace free of sexual misconduct and the need for hotline reporting through regular organization-wide communications and learning events, as well as guiding our team leaders to have those communications with their teams.
Hiring and onboarding
We are committed to the ongoing strengthening of application, interview, reference and onboarding processes. An in-house team is working to identify options for stronger processes and procedures for vetting new team members such as background-checking mechanisms, safeguarding-screening questions and improved selection processes. This will include specifically questioning candidates and their former employers about their suitability for working with different cohorts, including children, and eligibility for rehire.
Team members who are terminated for engaging in sexual misconduct in any form 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 our safeguarding measures receive the appropriate time, attention and dedicated resources to be effective.