OUR COMMITMENT TO WELLBEING, SAFETY & AN ENVIRONMENT FREE FROM ABUSE

The safety and wellbeing of our volunteers, staff, community members and partners comes first for us at All Hands and Hearts.

In recent months, we have taken note of comments on our social media regarding our handling of historic allegations of sexual and behavioral misconduct.

We take these concerns extremely seriously, and we thank those who have raised them for doing so. We take any allegations seriously in order to protect all volunteers, staff and communities we serve.

Concerns for confidentiality and protection of sources and survivors prevent us from commenting on specific allegations, including on social media platforms, but we can share what we’ve done and what we are doing as an organization to prevent the risk of future incidents, to mitigate their impact, and to hold ourselves accountable to high standards for the wellbeing and safety of all those with whom we work.

We remain committed to creating and maintaining a safe environment for everyone within the organization and in our work. We put this commitment into practice via:

  • Comprehensive Training for all Staff and Volunteers. We have a strict set of trainings and protocols that we give to our staff and volunteers to prevent these situations from occurring, but also to inform how to respond if any situation does occur.
  • Formal Process & Immediate Action. Upon learning of any accusation of sexual assault or harassment, we immediately follow our formal Sexual Harassment Exploitation Abuse (SHEA) process and conduct a confidential investigation.
  • Disciplinary Action. After a thorough investigation has taken place, supported by outside experts when necessary, we take full disciplinary action in line with our policies including and up to permanent termination. Where laws have potentially been broken, we support survivors in reporting to relevant authorities if they wish.
  • Survivor Care & Support. We support survivors and respect their wishes. We keep any cases confidential, offer to assist law enforcement with any separate criminal proceedings, and provide support through counseling services to help aid in the survivor’s recovery.

Sadly, a small number of incidents have happened. Our accountability means acknowledging our flaws, learning from historic incidents and relentlessly committing to continuous improvement in all that we do. We never want anybody to suffer sexual harassment of any kind in our work, and this drives our commitment to continuously learning, growing and taking action as an organization. In recent months, such action has included:

  • Independent Review. Recognizing the need for All Hands and Hearts to continue to find ways to better support survivors and improve SHEA trainings. With the strong support of our Board of Directors, we engaged a leading anti-sexual violence organization to review our SHEA policies and to identify opportunities for us to further strengthen our protocols and enforcement.
  • Internal Team. We have created a strong team who will drive our policies and procedures in line with the advice from the external review of our SHEA policies, and who will ensure that we implement key changes arising from this review.
  • New Senior Staffing. Recognizing the need for greater internal expertise, we recently established a new role, Director of Wellness, who will be charged with supporting the mental health and wellness of all volunteers and staff. This person will serve as a trained, trauma-informed point of contact for anyone who experiences sexual harassment or assault. This person will also help us to bolster our SHEA training, for both volunteers and on-program staff. Our Director of Wellness began in September 2021.

Additionally, we would like to address the concerns some have raised on social media about comments being deleted or hidden on our social media platforms. Our online platforms build informed, engaged, and supportive communities; however, there are certain topics we will not discuss on our social platforms. These include content that discloses any confidential or otherwise sensitive information. While interacting on our social media channels, we ask that everyone follow our Social Media Community Guidelines.

We will not stop here, as anything short of continuous learning and improvement is insufficient.

We equally know that we cannot effectively bring change without your support. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment, exploitation, abuse, sexism or racism on or off our program sites, we would like to speak with you so that we can open an investigation into any specific details provided. If you have concerns, please contact our Human Resources Manager, Claudia, at [email protected].

“As the new CEO of All Hands and Hearts, I am thrilled to serve this vibrant, driven and powerful community of volunteers making change happen around the world when it is needed most.

I am aware of many important questions asked of us in social media recently. Regarding a small number of incidents in which volunteers were alleged to have suffered harm during their time with us, please let me be unreservedly clear: the safety and wellbeing of our people – community members, volunteers and staff alike – comes first for me and will always come first for our organization as long as I serve All Hands and Hearts.

I deeply apologize to those of you who felt unheard, unsupported or ignored when you raised concerns, because that is simply not the All Hands and Hearts that I joined, nor does it reflect the All Hands and Hearts community that has positively impacted the lives of millions.

All voices are essential to help us continuously learn and to improve our work. To do so we must listen, learn and respond. Please know that our statement is simply a starting point, signalling a new era and our public commitments. Far more important are the actions, plans and changes to our work that I have asked our teams to prioritize from my first day, including ending our relative silence when these issues are raised on social media. Within weeks, we will share our actionable commitments publicly so that you can see our plans and hold us to account.

The actions of a few individuals alleged to have broken our high standards are not representative of who we are as All Hands and Hearts. Those people are no longer part of our community, nor will they return. Their behaviour has no home here, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that all future volunteers and staff represent the best of All Hands and Hearts.

As those of you who have already met me know, I have made one thing clear in my first days as CEO: the wellbeing, safety and health of our people is the top priority. I look forward to that journey with you all, with equal parts hunger and humility to grow, and to building on the very best of this excellent organization powered by volunteers and partners like you.” – Perry Maddox, Chief Executive Officer

We sincerely thank you for voicing your concerns. We will accountably provide updates on our progress in the future.

Sincerely,

The All Hands and Hearts Board of Directors and Leadership Team

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