COLUMN: Westwell of Ely says misconduct should be reported quicker in light of Oxfam scandal

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’

COLUMN: Rosemary Westwell asks ‘are we really in the Christmas spirit this year?’ - Credit: Archant

The easiest way to deal with problems in an organisation is to turn a blind eye.

Having to step in, make a fuss and often start a fight that can go on, and on is difficult, but there is no other way of dealing with some misdemeanours.

More often than not, the guilty party is so arrogant that they refuse to acknowledge their abusive behaviour.

It needs a firm hand to deal with them. That is why I thought the chief executive officers of these huge charities have such large salaries.

They are supposed to fully understand their organisation and have enough backbone to deal with the most delicate or the most horrendous of situations.

One would expect them to see for themselves what their charity is doing and not rely solely on being told of any problems. And if they are told of misconduct, they should act swiftly.

If they have the trust of their workforce and communicate with their staff often and at firsthand, staff would not be afraid to report rumours of misconduct.

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And, if it is painfully obvious that the accused are guilty, the chief should demand their resignation and report the matter to the relevant authorities.

This job should not be handed down for someone else to do. Whether our chiefs realise it or not, firmly embedded in an unwritten code of conduct is the notion that ‘the buck stops’ with the person in charge.

The Oxfam scandal - where it is claimed that staff for the charity in Haiti and other countries have paid vulnerable people for sex - has alerted us to the failings of some these institutions.

Why, I ask, was the deputy of Oxfam the first to resign and not Mark Goldring, the person in charge?

In this case, apparently his safeguarding officer had been expressing concerns. But Mr Goldring chose not to listen.

It would be unwise of me to put into print what I think about that.

There is one organisation I have firsthand experience of and its chief executive officer does indeed make a point of communicating with the lowliest of its staff.

She is open to direct questions, about how much she earns and her working hours.

She does not want to publicise the hours she works because the rest of her staff would feel obliged to do the same.

For once, I am not being cynical. She is sincere. I have no doubt that this lady would deal with any problems immediately.

It is time trustees looked hard at the kind of person at the helm of their organisations.

They should have no qualms about removing their chief executives if they are found inadequate.