Proactive #MeToo Tips for Non-Profit Boards

Harassment is a serious issue with far reaching consequences. Whether it is a staff member, or a volunteer, an accusation of harassment can have serious effects on an organization. Even if the harassment is far removed from the organization, the potential impact due to association can be damaging.

As with any potential issue that could seriously compromise a non-profit’s reputation, integrity or funding, it’s good practice for boards to put measures in place to address potential harassment issues. When a claim has been made, procedures to address harassment not only allow boards to respond effectively in the event of allegations, but also helps to foster a safe work environment. This is especially important since women compose up to 75% of the non-profit sector’s workforce in Canada, according to some statistics.

Some practices that may be of help include:

  • ensuring that there is  strong anti-harassment policy in place which clearly defines and prohibits any form of harassment, and then ensuring that all staff, board members and volunteers are aware of it.
  • creating a Code of Conduct, which is also clear and accessible to all, but also modeled by everyone within the organization.
  • having a Whistleblower Policy, so that staff and volunteers have a trusted channel of communication through which they can report any harassing behaviour.
  • having a robust process in place for background or reference checks for potential staff and volunteers, as well as considering the use of a 360 peer review process for staff, management and volunteers, which may help identify harassing or other troublesome behaviours
  • making sure there is a crisis management plan that can be put into action quickly, should a #MeToo allegation or incident occur.
  • preparing an emergency succession plan for key roles within the organization to ensure operations continue if there are sudden departures.

For more information, check out the following resources:

#MeToo Lessons for Nonprofit Boards

Six Critical Steps for Nonprofits Facing a #MeToo Incident

Nonprofit Risk Management in the #MeToo Era - Webinar