Charity leaders must do more to address workplace bullying, report finds

Written by David Adams
10/06/2019

Charity leaders should initiate a sector-wide discussion about bullying and workplace culture; and every charity should nominate at least one trustee and one senior manager to lead the organisation’s approach to staff workplace wellbeing, according to a new report.

The report, In Plain Sight, published by ACEVO and the Centre for Mental Health, assessed the experiences of bullying among 524 respondents to an online survey; and 20 people with whom the researchers conducted in-depth interviews. All examples of bullying occurred within registered charities in England and Wales during the past five years.

More than half the individuals affected (58 per cent) reported the bullying internally, but only three per cent felt their claim was dealt with satisfactorily. More than eight in ten (80 per cent) witnessed colleagues being bullied.

Senior managers were cited by respondents as having perpetrated or participated in bullying by 57 per cent of respondents; while 45 per cent said chief executives were involved. More than two-thirds (67 per vent) left the organisation following the incidents.

“Bullying affects workplaces in every part of our society and the voluntary sector is no different,” ACEVO CEO, Vicky Browning said. “We believe that as charities we should be taking a lead on how we tackle bullying in order to create inclusive and supportive workplace cultures.”

The report identified factors that can contribute to the creation of a bullying culture, including weaknesses in governance and organisational policies and practices; uncertainty about the regulatory framework and remit of the Charity Commission in relation to bullying; and the absence of a sector-wide initiative to respond to bullying or to promote healthier workplace cultures.

The report also suggests charity leaders cooperate to collect further data relating to instances of bullying, including the experiences of employees with protected characteristics under the 2010 Equality Act, such as membership of a BAME group; and the experiences of junior staff.

More than one in five respondents (22 per cent) said the bullying they experienced contained elements of prejudice or discrimination related to age; 13 per cent said it referred to their disability; 30 per cent to their gender; seven per cent to race; three per cent to sexual orientation; and two per cent to their religion.

Centre for Mental Health CEO, Sarah Hughes added: “Being bullied can have a devastating effect on our mental health. […] It is now time for all of us who lead charities to take action to make sure we are providing a safe, healthy place for people to work, and taking effective action when we need to deal with problems.”

The report can be downloaded here.



Related Articles


  • Charity Times Awards Event Date: 2nd October 2019 Event Deadline: Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London For booking and enquiries email linda.libetta@charitytimes.com
  • Charity Times Pensions Roundtable Event Date: 10th October 2019 Event Deadline: Barnett Waddingham, 2 London Wall Place, London For booking and enquiries email linda.libetta@charitytimes.com
  • Investors Forum – Climate Change Event Date: 22nd October 2019 Event Deadline: 1 Birdcage Walk Westminster, London SW1H 9JJ For booking and enquiries email linda.libetta@charitytimes.com
  • Charity Times Annual Conference Event Date: 6th May 2020 Event Deadline: The Waldorf Hilton, London
  • Property Roundtable Event Date: 2020 TBC Event Deadline: Searcy’s at the Gherkin For booking and enquiries email linda.libetta@charitytimes.com
  • Better Society Awards Event Date: 23rd May 2019 Event Deadline: 25th January 2019 London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London
Most read stories...