ACEVO is looking to spark debate within the charity sector about how bullying accusations are dealt with and reported by the media.
Charities need robust processes in place to avoid “trial by media”, including social media, when bullying accusations are made, according to ACEVO.
The charity chief executives’ organisation wants to see more discussion in the sector about bullying, due to the mental health challenges that victims face.
In a blog ACEVO’s head of policy Kristiana Wrixon talks about her own experience of being bullied.
Her blog details how vital it is that charities have strong whistleblowing policies in place that tackle how the media presents investigations into bullying. This can also ensure that people have the confidence to raise concerns.
“It is a culture of peer support and the presence of robust whistleblowing policies that will make the difference between a report being made and not,” she said.
“Equally, trustees need to feel confident that lines of communication are open to staff who may wish to talk to them, and that due diligence is carried out when recruiting positions.
“Without robust processes in place, charities – their CEOs, staff and trustees – are vulnerable to trial by media, whether that’s the national press or social media.
“When accusations of bullying are publicly made, charities need to be able to point to evidence that allegations have been investigated and that the appropriate action – whether exoneration or sanction – has been taken.”
She added that too often the message, that charities can carry out vital, good work, even if a member of their team is found to be a bully, is often lost in the media.
“It is a false binary to say a charity that employs a bully is not simultaneously delivering good, necessary work, but that is often how media articles present the issue,” she said.
“Of course, the work could be improved in a better environment, but good work takes place in bad conditions.
“It is fundamentally not fair for a person who is experiencing bullying to face an impossible choice between the pressure of making a public complaint and the pressure of facing a harmful work environment.”
Mental health and bullying
Last month Charity Digital convened a roundtable discussion on the issue of online bullying and trolling.
This follows a report by ACEVO and Social CEOs into the mental health challenges faced by charity bosses who are targeted by online trolls and bullying.
The “shocking” impact of personal, targeted abuse by women in the charity sector was a key theme to emerge, as victims discussed their feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety.