Amid the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the #MeToo movement, Oxfam has been facing its own sex scandal. The charity that endeavours to protect vulnerable people around the world through its various aid programmes has come under fire this month for its questionable handling of staff sexual misconduct in 2010.
It all started in early February 2018 when The Times published a front-page article about Oxfam staff paying Haitian women for sex following the 2010 earthquake. This story took the media world by storm and before long, much like during the Harvey Weinstein case of last year, people began to come forward with their own allegations against specific Oxfam employees. Since then, 26 claims of sexual misconduct have been made against Oxfam staff, with previous director of operations in Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, being named countless times for his role in this sex scandal.
The public revelation of this misconduct has caused the charity sector to take stock of their involvement, and has been referred to as “a wake up call” for the sector as a whole. Oxfam strongly denies all claims of any cover-up on their part, expressing that they were only aware of the accusations in 2011 and immediately initiated an internal investigation once they were brought to light. In recent interviews, the executive director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima, has stated that she feels “deeply hurt” by the events of 2010, ensuring the public that such injustice would never happen again under the new rules and safeguards that have since been put in place.
Following the Haitian sex scandal and all subsequent allegations coverage in the media, Oxfam has seen thousands of people cancel their direct debit donations and has even stopped bidding for UK government funding. For a charity that relies on public donations and governmental support, this is a crushing blow and may ultimately affect the positive aid work that they provide. The question is, though, would things have been different for Oxfam if they had performed detailed due diligence and investigated their top employees better?
Prevent scandal, know your business
So what can your business learn from Oxfam’s mistakes? Hopefully, a scandal of this magnitude is not on the cards for your business, but if this story teaches you anything it should be to ensure that you are familiar with the people who work within your organisation. As a business owner, it’s crucial that you know your employees well and that you are aware of their past professional history. This is why conducting due diligence investigations is key to the success of your business.
Working with Blackhawk can make the due diligence and investigative process a lot easier to manage. We have the expertise and resources to give you the advice and support you need.
Three useful Blackhawk services
There are number of different due diligence and investigative services that Blackhawk can provide. Here are three of the most useful ones that can help you keep better tabs on your business and the people who work for you:
1. Pre-emptive due diligence
Conducting due diligence procedures should be an essential part of your business. As well as giving you detailed information about other businesses and potential employees, pre-emptive due diligence can help reduce the overall risk your business faces when engaging in a new venture or hiring a new employee.
2. International due diligence
Deciding to do business with a company overseas can leave you open to risks. Our international due diligence service can give you the information you need to help you make an informed decision about whether or not to go ahead with a new business venture. Understanding the international market and the potential pitfalls that come with expanding your business abroad will allow you to plan accordingly.
3. Background checks
Knowing more about the people who work for you or the people you are doing business with can’t go wrong. Having a better understanding of your workforce and your business relationships can minimise the overall risk your business may face. Preventing an Oxfam level scandal is as easy as being aware of who your employees are.
Conducting background checks doesn’t always mean that you’ll find something suspicious. As in the case with Oxfam, initial background checks on Roland Van Hauwermeiren could not have foretold his future sexual misconduct. However, using our pre-employment screening services can help to protect your business, as we will identify any issues that may crop up.
Blackhawk believes that every business should employ due diligence and investigative services to ensure that they are minimising their business risks as much as possible. Call us today on 020 7788 8983 to speak to our due diligence team. We can work with you to put your mind at ease, to reduce risk to your business, and to prevent large-scale scandals.