Responding to sexual misconduct reports in the sector, a spokesperson for ActionAid UK said:
“The reported behaviour of staff working at leading NGOs uncovered by The Times this weekend is completely unacceptable. It goes against the true values and the standards that those working in the not-for-profit sector are committed to. No one is immune to this behaviour and it is absolutely essential that we all learn from this and take immediate steps as individuals and across the sector to ensure the protection of the people we are here to support.
“In the countries where ActionAid works, our local community-based staff work directly with women and girls embedded within the community to listen to their needs and provide them with the tools and skills to help themselves, and be empowered to challenge what holds them back.
“Throughout the organisation we have a zero-tolerance policy on any form of sexual harassment and misconduct, and clear child protection policies aimed to protect beneficiaries. We have a whistleblowing policy to encourage staff to come forward if they have any concerns and if an allegation is made, processes are in place to ensure immediate and decisive action is taken.
“We have recently been working with external safeguarding experts to develop further our policy and procedures with regards to children and vulnerable adults, to ensure they are fit for purpose and in line with our new strategy. This includes training on the policy and procedures for all staff.
“It is essential that we are transparent and accountable, both to the communities where we work and to inspire confidence in those who so generously support our work with women and girls living in the world’s poorest places and help change lives for good.”