Minority Rights Group International (MRG) Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, writes this opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.+ LEARN MORE
MRG Conduct Complaints Procedure
MRG prides itself on the professional and respectful behaviour of its staff, council members, consultants, interns and volunteers, and also acknowledges that external actors such as beneficiaries, partners, and donors have similarly high standards for themselves. However, we recognise there may be instances where these high standards are not met, and safeguarding issues may arise. In such cases, the aggrieved person may wish to raise concerns through formal channels. This procedure is designed specifically for this purpose, where the behaviour in question takes place within the context of a professional collaboration with MRG.
2. Aims of this procedure
This procedure can be used for:
- external parties to complain about the conduct of MRG staff, council, interns, or contractors which was suffered in the course of working professionally with MRG.
- MRG staff, council, interns, or contractors to complain about the conduct of external parties which was suffered in the course of working professionally with MRG.
- The complaint should generally be made by the affected person(s) themselves. However if for any reason this is not possible (eg, where the affected person is unable to write, or does not have access to a computer), the complaint may be raised by someone else nominated by the affected person(s).
3. What does this procedure cover?
This policy can be used to complain about inappropriate behaviour which takes place within a professional collaboration with MRG. This may be, for example, during the implementation of an MRG-funded activity, or a training organised with MRG, or a conference at which an MRG staff member is speaking.
Specifically, this procedure should only be used for complaints about the following types of incidents:
- Sexual misconduct, harassment or unwanted sexual attention
- Bullying or discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, disability, age, or sexual orientation
- Financial misconduct and corruption
This procedure is not applicable to incidents other than the ones mentioned above.
Recent reporting in the media has shown that defining what is and is not misconduct is not always clear-cut. MRG takes a victim-oriented approach, and will accept complaints based on the perception of the affected person(s) where they fit into the above three categories. This in no way prejudges the results of the investigation, which will be evidence-based.
4. Are there time limits for when complaints can be brought?
In order for there to be a reasonable chance of investigating complaints, complaints must be made within the following time frames:
- Where incidents happened in the course of implementing an MRG-funded programme, a complaint must be brought within 36 months.
- Where the complaint is about an MRG consultant intern or volunteer, it should be raised within 2 years of the alleged incident.
- Where the complaint is about MRG staff or council member, it should be raised within 4 years of the alleged incident.
5. What are the steps in the procedure?
If you wish to raise a conduct complaint within the parameters explained above, these are the steps to be followed:
- Download and fill in the MRG Conduct Complaint Form.
- Email the completed form to MRG at email@example.com. In the subject line, please write: ‘Conduct Complaint’.
- If you do not have access to email, you can either ask someone else to email it to us on your behalf (make sure this is someone you trust), or post the completed form to us at the following address: MRG, 54 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT.
- Once we receive a Conduct Complaint, we will acknowledge receipt within 5 working days. Where MRG has a contractual relationship with the person against whom the allegations are made, MRG will launch an investigation within 7 working days.
- During the investigation, we will need to speak with the affected person(s) in order to progress the complaint.
- We will also, where feasible, speak with the person(s) against whom the allegations are made.
- Disciplinary action will be taken where complaints are substantiated and where MRG has the power to do so. In complaints relating to external parties, their organisations’ code of conduct and disciplinary procedures will dictate the action taken.
- We will aim to conclude investigations within 25 working days. However, in some instances this may not be possible, MRG will inform the complainant about estimated resolution dates.
- We will aim to resolve a complaint within 35 working days. This includes making decisions on actions. Where possible, we will inform complainants about proposed actions.