Developing a “Speak Up” Culture
A “Speak Up” culture improves child safety and provides an excellent opportunity to create a safe and welcoming environment. It encourages staff and volunteers to raise concerns about illegal practices or policy violations without fear of getting in trouble or experiencing retaliation.
A “Speak Up” culture positions organizations to address any issues that can decrease safety for kids and youth. It is a proven standard of care that reduces risk and increases accountability. An effective “Speak Up” culture begins at the top and requires senior leadership to commit to establishing a policy that fosters transparency, encourages open dialogue, and demonstrates a commitment to being proactive rather than defensive.
Here are several ways to develop a “Speak Up” culture in your organization.
- Encourage staff and volunteers to raise concerns and report issues early. Early reporting helps resolve issues more efficiently.
- Provide a process with safe and structured channels for reporting.
- Make reporting easy and confidential. Pledge to protect those who come forward.
- Have a defined reporting structure. Usually, people will report first to the supervisor or a team lead.
- Educate managers and team leads on how to respond constructively to a report. Everyone should have a reporting channel in which they trust.
- Provide a fair evaluation.
- Commit to an effective resolution of concerns.
- Establish a commitment to a “No Retaliation” policy.
- Follow through and fairly address issues quickly and without bias or retaliation.
- Seek the input and involvement of staff, volunteers, and senior leadership to design and implement reporting channels and support programs.
- Learn from system failures and work to do better.
- Respect confidentiality and anonymity.
Each of these is an excellent organizational practice that is adaptable to meet an organization’s unique requirements. If resources are an issue, use outside support for audits and investigations, which will increase trust in the overall process. Ensure your program is working by offering confidential surveys or feedback loops, interviews, and assessments. Make sure each policy falls under the legal requirements for your area.
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