Mercy Corps Commitments to Action Progress Report
Biannual report includes updates on increased safeguarding resources, hiring of Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
Mercy Corps today released its second report detailing progress delivering on commitments to action made by the organization in February 2020. The list of commitments followed an independent, external review examining Mercy Corps’ handling of reports of sexual abuse by Mercy Corps’ late co-founder brought to the organization’s attention in 2018.
"We made important progress delivering on our commitments to action in 2020, and our work continues in the year ahead," says Tjada D'Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps. "Steve Linick brings a wealth of experience to his role as Mercy Corps’ first Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and we have made important advances in increasing our safeguarding resources and strengthening our governance structures. These changes will help to ensure Mercy Corps is accountable to the communities we serve and to provide survivors with the dignity and support they deserve."
Following its first progress report, published in July 2020, Mercy Corps has:
- Appointed Steve Linick as Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer. Linick oversees a new ethics and compliance department that supports and monitors ethical, legal and contractual compliance across Mercy Corps’ global operations. He also oversees the intake and investigations department, responsible for all reports of ethics violations including safeguarding allegations, fraud, corruption, other Code of Conduct reports and global human resources complaints. Linick previously served as Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
- Increased safeguarding staff resources, adding additional team members to the global safeguarding team, creating a new Global Safeguarding Task Force and adding safeguarding managers to the organization’s largest country programs. Safeguarding support roles, including focal points and co-investigators, are now active in over 30 countries. Mercy Corps expects dedicated safeguarding support to be in place in all countries by June 30, 2021.
- Developed Safeguarding and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) training for senior management and country leaders to improve knowledge and practice around Mercy Corps’ safeguarding policies and processes. These newly developed trainings are in addition to mandatory agency-wide training on safeguarding and PSEA.
- Began rolling out a new Community Accountability Reporting Mechanisms (CARM) policy. The policy, approved in June 2020, outlines nine new standards to ensure proper mechanisms are in place in every country for community members to provide feedback and voice complaints and concerns in a safe, confidential and accessible way.
- Initiated a governance review and began implementing initial recommendations from the review, including setting term limits for board members and addressing the composition and diversity of the Board through the recruitment of new directors. An inaugural meeting of the Board’s new Joint Ethics and Safeguarding Committee, established in June 2020, took place in November.
Updates detailed in the biannual report add to ongoing progress made throughout 2020 against the commitments to action, including initiating an investigation into Mercy Corps’ handling of reports of abuse in the 1990s and into the extent of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by Ellsworth Culver in connection with his role at Mercy Corps. After a thorough review, Mercy Corps selected Freeh Group International Solutions to conduct the investigation. Freeh Group began its investigation in July 2020, and it is ongoing. Mercy Corps also issued the organization’s second annual Global Safeguarding Report for Fiscal Year 2020.
A complete summary of Mercy Corps’ response to details of abuse by co-founder Ellsworth Culver, including the organization’s commitments to action, can be found on the Mercy Corps website here.