The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has announced plans to end its relationship with the HR consultancy Tell Jane, with the consultancy saying it is “disappointed” in the CIoF.
In a report summarising Tell Jane’s findings from its investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at CIoF events and the CIoF’s handling of sexual harassment complaints, published today, the CIoF board said the organisations had agreed “an amicable parting of the ways”.
A number of witnesses and survivors criticised the appointment of Tell Jane to conduct the investigation into the CIoF’s complaints handling processes, arguing that its pre-existing role of running the CIoF’s safeguarding helpline created a conflict of interests.
Additional complaints centred on the way in which Tell Jane handled their evidence during the investigation.
Tell Jane’s full investigation report, which upheld four complaints of sexual harassment against a CIoF Fellow and criticised a number of institutional failings at the CIoF, has not been published, but a summary of its findings was published by the CIoF board.
The summary report said: “Tell Jane has decided to withdraw its reporting helpline service and will no longer carry out investigations on behalf of the Chartered Institute, with the two organisations having agreed to an amicable parting of ways.”
In early June the CIoF released a statement saying that its former chief executive, Peter Lewis, had been cleared of wrongdoing after the investigation looked into whether he had been aware of allegations of sexual assault and failed to act.
When survivors and witnesses complained that they had not been informed that the statement would be published, the CIoF initially said Tell Jane had contacted them, but later apologised after Tell Jane issued its own statement, saying it had never been asked to inform them.
The report summary said: “Tell Jane has been disappointed with how the Chartered Institute has handled the process: an aspect of this is the communication with the survivors and the lack of support provided from the outset of the investigation until this was addressed in June 2021.”
Tell Jane will continue to run the helpline until the CIoF has found a new provider, the report said.
It added that the board would “make sure that feedback is sought from members and people with lived experience” when commissioning a new provider.
The summary said: “Through the Learning Review produced by Tell Jane and its suggestions for improvement in conducting two investigations commissioned by the Chartered Institute, the consultancy has provided advice and challenge on the development of processes to help create a culture where people feel safe and supported to speak out against harassment, bullying and discrimination.”
In a press statement, a spokeswoman for Tell Jane told Third Sector: "It is with regret that we have come to the decision to withdraw all Tell Jane services and consultancy support from the CIoF.
"Tell Jane specialises in preventing toxic workplace behaviour by supporting organisations to cultivate open and honest cultures where victims and witnesses feel safe and empowered to speak out against bullying, harassment and discrimination."
The statement continued: "Unfortunately, as a result of various concerns relating to the CIoF’s handling of and lack of support in the investigation process – in particular, lacking or mis-communication with victims – we do not feel able to continue to support the Chartered Institute."