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Oxfam Trust Integrity

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Building Trust and Integrity – The Oxfam debacle

In my soon to be published book How CRAPI is your FART, I have tried to provide some theories towards ensuring that an organization’s CRAPI system can impact their FARTing.

Over the last couple of weeks, one of the world’s largest humanitarian NGO – Oxfam has been embroiled in the sexual harassment scandal across different areas of the world.

What is even more catastrophic is the reports that Oxfam had been given several warning dating back over a decade. In an article by Steve Bird and Edward Malnick, there was a report presented to charities in 2008 which claimed that children as young as six years old were forced to sell sex to aid workers in exchange for cash, food and mobile phones.

Also, the statement by the chief executive of Oxfam where he claimed that the organization should have been more transparent about the allegations of sexual abuse by its workers goes to buttress the need for an effective CRAPI system to enable them FART better and nip the issues and challenges in the bud.

For me I believed that if Oxfam had taken a few steps in the direction of what I call the CRAPI education in my upcoming book, they would have taken a different approach to managing these challenges and be more transparent in their dealings to was creating a successful FART system which would have ensured that today one of the world’s foremost humanitarian NGO will not be on the verge of collapse. As it is today, over 7000 over their independent donors have retracted their contribution to the organization and one of their most prominent ambassador for over 20 years Minnie Driver has stepped down.

For me Oxfam should have approached the issues and challenges by using some of the concepts I have outlined in my upcoming book towards ensuring that they were better able to manage these issues both internally and externally.

  1. How did the organization deal with the ethical issues that arose of a result of finding out these issues? Were they in line with the organizations Code of Ethics? No, it was not, because if it were they would have addressed these issues in line with their code 2 which clearly states, “Treat all people with respect and dignity and challenge any form of harassment, discrimination, intimidation, exploitation or abuse”.
  2. Did Oxfam consider their stake holders – the world’s population – in the way and manner they addressed these allegations? No, they did not. What should have been done when the allegations were brought to their attention was simply to be transparent and let the whole world know about it whilst providing a transparent process on how it was been dealt with.
  3. Did Oxfam consider the inherent risk to their business and the environment in which they operated? No, they did not. Rather like most organizations would do they tried to cover up forgetting that they were dealing with a stakeholder base that cuts across the globe
  4. From the foregoing, it is obvious that Oxfam have not been, neither have they shown any form of transparency on this issue.
  5. After the first set of allegations, how did Oxfam set up their internal monitoring and reporting system to ensure that their internal controls and auditing systems were able to monitor those who were alleged to have perpetuated this terrible act.
  6. It is also obvious that their Corporate Governance structure did not work in line with the principles and codes of good corporate governance as expected by an organization such as Oxfam. What was the Board of Oxfam doing to ensure that they applied the principles of good corporate governance to these allegations?

From all the issues and allegations and actions of the Board and Management of Oxfam, I believe that the following were major contributors to how they acted, and these actions resulted in the outcome they are currently facing today.

  1. The personal values of those staff of Oxfam who were assigned the huge of responsibility of acting in line with the Code No. 2 in their code of conduct policy.
  2. The moral imagination of these set of people is very flawed. This has led to them taking advantage of the same people they were meant to be helping to get back on their feet after a major disaster.
  3. What really is the true organizational culture of Oxfam? Have we for one day looked at the fact that the culture promotes such acts? For me I believe the culture at Oxfam promotes these types of actions internally as such they refused to take the appropriate action to address these allegations either internally and/or externally.
  4. The level of Board oversight in Oxfam seems to me to be very poor and this is another factor that has led to these types of culture in Oxfam.

I believe that for Oxfam to deal with these allegations and move forward towards regaining the trust of the people and rebuilding its integrity, they should do the following;

  1. Carryout a full investigation of all these allegations and all those who are found to have compromised be dismissed and handed over to the law for proper prosecution in line with the laws and regulations governing sexual harassment and child abuse. This will include any member of the Board of Directors who has knowing being involved in any cover up for aiding and abetting such acts.
  2. For any who was involved and have come forward to admit any involvement in these allegations, they should be given some of amnesty or reduced sentences for admitting and willing to change a purported corrupt system.
  3. For those who did not come forward and are later found culpable, they should also be made to face the law as proposed in (1) above.
  4. There is a need to change the structure of the Board and Management of Oxfam to lead them in their march to a better CRAPI and FART systems.
  5. Oxfam should ensure strict compliance to its Code of Ethics Policy and ensure that the whistle blowing mechanism is better managed and that whistle blowing allegations are quickly dealt with and reported through a transparent system to all stakeholders.

In conclusion as described in my upcoming book, in driving the C-R-A-P-I education within Oxfam especially as it relates to providing humanitarian services in emerging economies, the Tone from the Top, is the key to SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS SUCCESS.

Oxfam should start to learn, improve and implement overarching Governance, Risk and Compliance principles which will lay major focus and/or emphasis on the following

  1. Focus on the long-term sustainability of Oxfam
  2. Working on the real and sustainable values of Oxfam
  3. Considering the interest of all stakeholders. This is because as it has become obvious, where Oxfam has failed fail to create the necessary improvements across its business value chain, the tendencies for them to remain a going-concerns dwindles as these stakeholders are the real reason why they are in the business of humanitarian services.
  4. Regularly review you’re their business strategy and model
  5. Be the role model they want others to be. WALK THE TALK
  6. Regularly scrutinize performance and risk. Turn your Governance, Risk and Compliance models and systems from being REACTIVE, to being PREDICTIVE
  7. Challenge assumptions

Oxfam would have avoided their current situation if only they had applied the CRAPI principles required to FART.

Thank You.

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