100 organisations now part of the Inter-agency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme to stop abusers remaining in the sector

1 November 2021
Inez Książek

by Inez Książek

Misconduct Disclosure Scheme Coordinator

A key way to tackle unacceptable and preventable incidents of sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment (SEAH) is to stop an abuser’s ability to continue working in the aid sector after misconduct has been uncovered. The Inter-agency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme aims to stop people who have been found guilty of committing sexual misconduct from moving between aid organisations undetected. The Scheme strengthens an organisation’s recruitment practices by building on the processes and resources already in place. By using the Scheme, its members make a public commitment to strengthen their efforts to prevent SEAH from occurring.

The Scheme was launched in 2019 with 14 members piloting the initiative. Over the past two years the number of organisations has been steadily growing. More than 100 organisations are now using it to put a stop to avoidable harms. Local and international NGOs, as well as private sector organisations, are all making use of the Scheme.

Breaking the chain of abuse

Individuals who have been found guilty of sexually abusing, exploiting, or harassing people may go on to harm again. To mitigate the risk of abusers being hired by your organisation, you need to make sure that you have adequate processes in place. The Scheme helps you strengthen your recruitment referencing practices and provides a way to request information related to SEAH cases which were investigated and substantiated in the past.

By implementing the Scheme, your organisation makes a commitment to request information related to sexual misconduct for all new hires and to always share this information with others when requested. This allows you, and other employers, to make confident, well-informed recruitment decisions.

The journey so far

Back in 2019, 14 organisations started piloting the newly launched Scheme. With strong support from senior leadership, HR, Legal, and Safeguarding experts engaged in the process, the implementation has been progressing and the first checks have been made.

Based on the successful pilot, implementing organisations and Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response staff worked together to raise awareness about this initiative, proving that checks can be conducted systematically and at a scale.

In the first year of Scheme’s existence more than 2,600 requests for misconduct data were made. This increased to more than 7,700 checks in the second year.

Today, we celebrate an important milestone – to date more than 100 organisations have signed up to the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. Our members come from diverse backgrounds – with smaller NGOs working locally, large international NGOs, organisations from the private sector, and others getting ready to join.

Risk perception

Challenges with implementation can sometimes be seen as a barrier to joining the Scheme. The risk of a defamation claim or the complexities of data protection regulations can be incorrectly perceived as obstacles to conducting checks.

In reality, the checks conducted under the Scheme are very similar to the ones already conducted by your organisation. With more than 100 implementing organisations and more than 10,000 checks conducted so far, no complaints related to the implementation have been raised.

The much greater risk of not screening candidates and hiring a known perpetrator of sexual misconduct leads to gravely serious consequences. From failing to protect the people you work with, be it your staff or community members, to the huge reputational risk and potential financial and legal implications faced by your organisation.

Our organisations face the same issues – we need to work together to address them.

“We are all working towards the same goal of preventing harm to vulnerable people so it’s worth looking at the Scheme as it can really help by bringing organisations together to address these issues.” From a Bond case study on Using the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme.

Get involved!

CHS Alliance encourages all its members to be a part of the Scheme, so if you are not yet, join us! CHS. If you are already implementing the checks, make sure you share your experiences with others.

For more information about the Scheme visit the website or get in touch with me: iksiazek@chsalliance.org.

Find out more about CHS Alliance’s work on PSEAH.