21 March 2018
All forms of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) are completely unacceptable. These behaviours have no place in UNDP, and do not represent who we are. Zero tolerance means just that. Even one case, anywhere, is one too many.
It is our collective priority to prevent this abhorrent behaviour and to support those affected. We must ensure allegations of sexual harassment and SEA are responded to swiftly, appropriately and effectively.
The UNDP Administrator has established a Taskforce on Sexual Harassment led by UNDP’s Executive Office to review existing policies and procedures to ensure that staff and other personnel who have either been targets of sexual harassment, or witnesses to it, feel safe and empowered to speak up.
As a result of the Taskforce’s work, UNDP is further strengthening its policy on Workplace Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Abuse of Authority as well as its policy on Protection Against Retaliation, giving much more emphasis to the issue of sexual harassment and ensuring that our approach is the very strongest it can be.
We are also reviewing our procedures, including looking at the case for a separate reporting process for sexual harassment as well as mechanisms for strengthening our investigations capacity. This work should be completed in the coming weeks.
However, there is still more we can do. Good policies, while important for establishing the ground rules, are not enough to drive culture change across UNDP.
We are aware that we face a problem of under-reporting, and the reasons for this are not unknown – staff either fear retaliation, or they do not believe anything will be done.
UNDP is determined to fundamentally shift this dynamic so that all staff - in every city, village, or outpost of the world - feel safe to speak up and trust that any allegation of sexual harassment and SEA will be dealt with fairly and promptly.
Prevention lies at the center of our efforts to address sexual harassment and SEA, and the key to prevention is education and awareness. Over the coming weeks and months, UNDP is establishing a number of initiatives to drive forward this change. These include:
· A comprehensive outreach campaign across UNDP to raise awareness of the revised policy and processes and remind all UNDP personnel of their responsibilities, including the importance of taking our mandatory training courses related to this issue.
· Identifying champions running through all levels of the organization to encourage staff to talk about sexual harassment in the workplace and SEA, and identify ways to create a safer and more open environment.
· Outreach to managers and supervisors in particular, ensuring that they have the guidance and support they need to prevent, identify and deal with these issues. They are key to fostering a safe and harmonious environment, free from bias, discrimination and intimidation.
· All Directors and Heads of Office will now provide mandatory annual certificates confirming that they have fulfilled their responsibilities under the revised policy on Workplace Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Abuse of Authority – including putting in place a Prevention of Sexual Harassment and SEA Action Plan.
UNDP is committed to providing a harmonious workplace based on mutual respect, dignity and support. This issue has been hidden for too long - we must, and will, confront it head on.