Sexual Harassment and Personal Safety Working Group, DFID
Following the #MeToo movement and the safeguarding scandal of February 2018, our work is enabling DFID to ensure we hold ourselves to at least as high a standard as we expect from our partners, and to drive a conversation on sexual harassment across the Civil Service. We are focusing on long term change to build an inclusive working culture, using the momentum and evidence we have gathered to keep this issue firmly on the agenda of senior leaders and drive action to tackle the problem.
Based on the evidence we generated through our all-staff survey on sexual harassment, we have helped overhaul DFID systems and guidance, simplifying, reviewing and updating our procedures to address sexual harassment and relevant staff policies. Senior leaders have personally committed to act on the results of the survey and to ensure that this previously hidden issue is openly discussed and tackled. The Women’s Network and HR have developed a range of new advice, tools and guidance for staff and we are piloting bystander training for staff to empower people to act if they see colleagues treating others unacceptably. Security training for staff going to difficult environments overseas has been reviewed to improve how it addresses sexual harassment and violence, and we are working with staff and FCO to get our security support right.
At a personal level, the survey has raised awareness and empowered colleagues to share their experiences, with many reporting historical incidents and/or seeking support for the first time. Through 1:1 conversations, the focus groups, and discussion sessions run across the organisation, we have supported individuals and helped leaders to start to change team culture.
At a cross-HMG level, we have worked closely with FCO and DIT colleagues and with our support both departments have since run their own survey. We are now working with them on a joint response. Other government departments are actively exploring whether to follow suit.