'I have been let down yet again': Women react to CIoF sexual harassment report

Women who reported incidents of sexual harassment at the chartered institute of Fundraising have said they feel “let down yet again” with the conclusion of its investigation.

Beth Upton, who made a sexual harassment complaint about a CIoF fellow, said in a twitter thread that she has “lost the final shreds of faith in anyone involved in the leadership of CIoF.”

Upton, who has posted a video on Facebook about the situation, welcomed trustees' conclusion that an independent review must be commissioned, but called on them to remove any involvement by trustees, members of sub-committees of the board, groups, volunteers or staff in both drawing up of terms of reference or choosing who will undertake the review.

Upton said she did everything she was told was necessary for a complaint to be acted upon, but that it was ignored after she spoke to a trustee. It has since been alleged that her comments were 'noted' rather than acted upon.

“I am concerned about a lack of capacity within the organisation, both at a trustee and staff level,” she said in her twitter thread.

Mandy Johnson, a former CIoF group chair, who has also been outspoken, penned a post on LinkedIn about her thoughts on the report.

“Getting to this point has been a long and gruelling experience for many victims, survivors and allies…and we are still not at the finish line. CIoF has announced yet another independent review. This is both needed and appreciated, not only so that complaints against the previous CEO can be investigated but also so that people can feel safe attending CIoF events.

“The thought of another Independent Review is exhausting.”

She added that the investigation 'wrongly stated' that she had declined to give evidence, when she was actually not made aware about the investigation and read about it in the press “when the institute publicly gaslighted women who had privately given their personal testimonies".

“Thankfully, it has now been proven and accepted that Tell Jane did not contact me at all after they were commissioned to investigate Peter Lewis; all of my interactions with them were before this date. I could not decline an invitation I was never given. It is one of many obvious flaws in the investigation.”

In her post, she concludes: “For years I believed that the CIoF was the organisation to make that possible but no brand is worth the risk of people being harmed under its name. I hope that the CIoF will become the organisation we want it to be. If not, I know the fundraising community will find other ways to work together in a safe and positive way.”

On social media, people have been publicly praising both Johnson and Upton on speaking out.

One person asked if Upton, and others, had been offered independent support with mental health throughout the situation. Upton said they were offered access to their employee assistance programme, which she declined due to an already strong support system, but she is unsure about others.

In the report, the Chartered Institute of Fundraising has claimed it takes full responsibility and apologises for the “clear organisational and governance failings in our culture and processes that let down survivors”.

To read the full report, visit: https://ciof.org.uk/about-us/what-we-stand-for/safe-environment/outcome-of-investigations-into-sexual-harassment-a

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