Report finds 'endemic' lack of trust between staff and members of the British Psychological Society

A report into the culture at the British Psychological Society has found an “endemic” lack of trust between staff and members and an “us” and “them” mindset.

The summary findings from the Members Network Review, which was conducted by consultancy Korn Ferry and has been seen by Third Sector, also identified a tension between the "corporate mindset" of BPS staff and the values members believe the society should hold.

The BPS is the charity that acts as the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK.

It is responsible for the promotion of excellence and ethical practice in the science, education and application of the discipline.

The BPS expelled its president-elect in May amid “persistent bullying” allegations, which he said were “baseless and without merit”.

The review, shared with members two months after the president-elect’s dismissal, concluded there was an "endemic" lack of trust and respect between staff and members and said members had a "lack of access to timely and accurate financial information".

Decision-making was deemed to be "unclear" and stakeholders on all sides felt there was a culture of "us" and "them".

Among the other key findings were that "membership does not necessarily represent good value for money” and there was a “lack of transparency and clarity around how the membership fees get spent”.

The review recommends changes to the charity’s operating model that include addressing the need for direct communication with members, refresher and induction training on the requirements of volunteers and the roles of BPS staff, and clarifying the arrangements for decision-making and key processes.

The charity said it had received “many positive comments” from members in the full report but did not respond to a request to share it.

A BPS spokesperson said: “It is important to highlight that many of the issues discussed in this report are systemic and historic in nature.

“This means they are the consequence of many individual decisions, taken over many years, by many different people, often with the best of intentions.

“It is also important to highlight that many of these issues have their roots in the past, and that the BPS is resolved to address and has already addressed many of them through our change programme.

“This is not to diminish the importance of the comments reflected here, but instead to reiterate what we see as the society’s genuine commitment to improving the experience of all our members.

“We are working closely with members and our representative senate to address many of the issues and create a force of change for the greater good.”

Third Sector revealed in June that the National Council for Voluntary Organisations pulled out of a consultancy contract with the BPS because it felt the charity’s culture would be detrimental to the wellbeing of its consultants.

The charity’s previous president stood down in April this year due to family commitments.

Prior to that, longstanding trustee and former president David Murphy stood down in February, after nearly 20 years at the charity, because of concerns about governance, spending and transparency.

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