IoF could expel members found guilty of sexual harassment

The fundraising body has established a taskforce on sexual harassment in the wake of a debate begun by the fundraiser Ruby Bayley-Pratt

(Photograph: Getty Images)
(Photograph: Getty Images)

The Institute of Fundraising could name and expel members who are found guilty of sexual harassment.

The membership body announced today that it was setting up a taskforce on sexual harassment in fundraising.

The move comes after a board meeting held yesterday in the wake of comments by the fundraiser Ruby Bayley-Pratt, who wrote an article in a personal capacity in Fundraising magazine about the prevalence of inappropriate sexual behaviour in fundraising.

She said it was common knowledge some senior male fundraisers could get "a little bit handsy".

Numerous female fundraisers have since contacted Bayley-Pratt about their own experiences of inappropriate behaviour.

The IoF’s new taskforce will investigate historic as well as new allegations of harassment. The institute's board could then take sanctions against those found guilty.

An institute spokesman said: "As a professional body the ultimate sanction we would have would be to expel someone from the institute, and we would expect to be able to make news of that expulsion public."

Claire Rowney and Isobel Michael, trustees of the institute, are leading moves to establish the taskforce. As well as Bayley-Pratt, they will be joined by a human resources expert and a legal expert.

Other members and the terms of reference are expected to be announced shortly.

The spokesman said the taskforce's first meeting would take place "in the next couple of weeks".

Amanda Bringans, chair of the institute, said in a statement that the taskforce would clampdown on unacceptable behaviour.

"We want to actively encourage people to come forward and report complaints if they have experienced sexual harassment by a member of the institute or at an institute event, no matter when that incident happened," said Bringans.

"Those incidents will be investigated fully, even if the person complained of resigns their membership of the institute.

"We expect our member organisations to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, to create an environment for fundraisers to share their experiences and to protect those who are affected.

"Harassment will not be tolerated, no matter whether this comes from an employee, a board member, a beneficiary or a charity’s most important donor.

The taskforce will also look at how to strengthen the institute's code of conduct and existing complaints policy and will recommend a sector-wide approach to tackling sexual harassment in fundraising.

The institute has 6,000 individual members and 460 organisation members.

Only individual members will be subject to sanctions made after the taskforce's recommendations, but the spokesman said it expected member organisations to investigate complaints made against their staff.

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