Safe Spaces and Understanding Unconscious Bias are Key to Safe Organisational Culture

Having a safe organisational culture  is key  for safeguarding. Without that, organisations may negatively impact staff wellbeing and, subsequently, the target community that receives support or aid from the organisation.

Furthermore, staff may not feel they can freely report a safeguarding breach when they do not trust the system or when they assume the report will not be addressed because their voices do not count. Therefore, RSH has designed the second phase of our successful mentor project to support Nigerian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to promote a positive organisational culture for safeguarding.

One of the participants, an Executive Director shared that since being involved in the mentoring programme he has been piloting different ways of keeping staff motivated and building their capacity by bringing them together to work more as a team, for example when writing proposals.

Although he used to write them all himself in the past, he has now started to involve a wider team to do this together. This, he reported, makes the staff feel part of the organisation and that their opinions count, which also reduced organisational turnover.

On the other hand, when an Executive Director’s presence is more like an authoritarian figure, staff will shy away and always talk behind their backs because such a leader has not created a space that allows staff to thrive. Experiences were shared where staff cannot leave the office when their manager or the Executive Director is still at work because it may seem as being rude or disrespectful or lacking a good work ethic. 

The issue of having policies or values that promote transparency, accountability, the “do no harm” principle, and freedom of speech cannot be achieved when leaders don’t walk the talk. Leaders need to also provide a safe space to motivate and energise staff to do their best, which ultimately would contribute to the organisation achieving its aims and objectives.

To read more about how to create a safe organisational culture, go to this link. You will find a measuring tool and a how-to note on supporting organisational culture change, and a supplementary workshop agenda.

Written by Oge Chukwudozie and published on RSH Nigeria Hub

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