How to Reduce the Risk of Sexual Misconduct Claims

Improper sexual misconduct has taken center stage as countless individuals have come forward with intolerable accounts of harassment and abuse. While nonprofits may believe they are safe from such legal entanglements, recent headlines suggest otherwise. Some of the most shocking charges against nonprofit organizations include:

  • USA Gymnastics came under fire after hundreds of girls came forward to accuse Dr. Lawrence Nassar of abuse. The organization forced the entire board to resign in an effort to control the damage.
  • Oxfam, an international aid organization, ignored allegations that company leaders paid victims of the Haitian earthquake for sex. Officials all the way up to the chief executive knew about the claims and chose not to act.
  • The American Red Cross provided a radiant job reference for one of its leaders that resigned due to allegations of sexually harassing a subordinate.

5 Questions Nonprofit Boards Need to Ask

Although many nonprofits have sexual harassment policies in place, enforcing the bare minimum isn’t enough to protect the organization. Boards should ask the following questions to reduce the risk of a sexual misconduct claim:

  1. Do we need to conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees and volunteers? Certain types of charity work require background checks, but it may be worth it to adopt the practice regardless to vet workers.
  2. Do we have a reference policy in place? To avoid American Red Cross’ situation, nonprofits need a system in place to ensure employees don’t provide positive references for former employees involved in sexual misconduct.
  3. Does the demographic of our workforce and leadership complicate the hiring process? For example, is a predominately male staff overlooking women for positions?
  4. Is there a reporting system in place that encourages victims of sexual harassment to come forward? The system should allow victims to feel safe reporting regardless of the offender.
  5. Is there a clear chain of consequences for sexual misconduct? Company policies should outline disciplinary action for sexual misconduct for employees and volunteers alike.

Even with proper planning and prevention methods, sexual misconduct allegations can still happen. That is why nonprofits need to invest in improper sexual conduct liability insurance. To learn more about how this coverage protects your nonprofit, contact the experts at SteelBridge.

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