Building a Culture of Safety at Work in Charitable Organizations – A Practitioner Perspective on the Dialogue About Sexual Harassment in and Around Nonprofits

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By Liz LeClair, CFRE. Chair, Women’s Impact Initiative (Association of Fundraising Professionals)

I am a fundraising practitioner with more than 15 years of experience in the charitable sector in Canada.   I am also a survivor of workplace sexual harassment and sexual assault by donors.  I have been a vocal advocate for safe workplace training as women in the fundraising sector are routinely placed in extremely vulnerable situations to do their jobs.  Sexual harassment, bullying, and other inappropriate behaviours against front-line fundraising staff is a serious issue that must be addressed.

I first wrote about my personal experience being sexually assaulted and harassed by donors in January 2019 for the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC).  Over the last two years I fought my former employers, and a major corporation, to hold an individual accountable for sexually harassing me over a period of four-and-a-half years.  In a follow up piece in May 2021, the CBC did an extensive report on how my former employers, and the human rights system, failed. 

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Starting a Dialogue About Sexual Harassment in and Around Nonprofits

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By Erynn E. Beaton and Megan LePere-Schloop, Ohio State University.

We might not expect nonprofit organizations to be sites of sexual harassment – after all, they exist to do good.  However, several high profile examples surfaced during the #MeToo movement, and surveys and polls suggest sexual harassment is widespread. For instance, our own research suggests that 75.8% of fundraisers have experienced sexual harassment ever in their career and 42.1% have experienced it in the past two years. Another survey suggests 55% of female humanitarian workers endure persistent sexual advances by a male colleague. The question is: What can nonprofits do to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in their midst?

To answer this question, you might run a quick Google search and spend hours reading about what the best practices are. Well, we’ve done that for you – and we compare the recommendations you would find to the research so that only validated practices are included. What we found is a set of seven overarching best practices, which we summarise below. Each of these best practices are undergirded by several specific measures that can be taken (see full article).

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Erased: Ending faculty sexual misconduct in academia

An open letter from women of public affairs education[1]

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The #MeToo movement is descending upon the walls of the ivory tower. The day of reckoning has come for academia to end teaching staff[2] sexual misconduct. As women educators in public administration[3] and third sector studies[4], we demand to be heard.

The issue of teaching staff perpetrating sexual misconduct is prevalent within academia, and more specifically, in graduate education programmes. In the United States (U.S.), 24.2% of women and 15.6% of men report being sexually victimized as undergraduates on a college campus in just the last two months (Jouriles et al., 2020); and, one out of every ten female graduate students report being sexually harassed by a member of the teaching staff (Cantor et al., 2020). This problem is not just isolated to the U.S. The Australian Human Rights Commission’s (2017) National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian universities found relatively similar numbers with 21% of students reporting being sexually harassed in a university setting, with about 7% being victimized by teaching staff (p. 48).

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