UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore’s message to staff
on the Report of the Independent Task Force on Workplace Gender-discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Authority
UNICEF’s mission is to support children and young people everywhere. But we cannot fulfill this mission without all of you, our staff members.
To carry out this important work, we all need - and we deserve - a healthy workplace that is caring and respectful, one driven by integrity, trust and accountability. These are the core values that we must all embody so we can continue to perform our work with commitment and dedication, every day.
Right now, UNICEF is not that workplace for all its staff. Not yet. We have achieved tremendous results and we have every right to be proud of our work and our history.
But some of you have not received the support you need and deserve from the organization. Still others feel that they cannot trust the systems and processes in place to address wrongdoing.
This is unacceptable — but not unfixable. UNICEF can become a stronger organization when it is more supportive of all its staff, and when it is, we will achieve even greater results for children.
Early last year I commissioned a series of initiatives to address issues we have in our workplace. One of those initiatives was the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Gender-discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Authority.
Parts of the report are not easy to read. I read things that made me angry about our failings, and things that made me more determined to push even harder for change.
I wanted everyone – at every level - to have the chance to read it at the same time, so this is the first time the actual report has been shared, including with the Global Management Team (GMT). However, some of the issues identified in the report were discussed at the GMT meeting in New York last week and I am proud to tell you that the GMT members were unanimous in welcoming this opportunity and passionately determined to continue to improve our wonderful organization. I have asked that they start a dialogue with all staff. To facilitate this, I am designating a Global Week of Reflection from 1-7 July where all Offices should take time to start the conversations that are so critical to accelerating the change needed.
I am sending you the report today to give you time to review it and think about the issues it raises in advance of a Global Town Hall that will be held on Thursday, June 27, 9 a.m. New York time.
The purpose of the Global Town Hall will be to share some initial thoughts about how to implement the changes the Independent Task Force recommends. We will be joined at the Town Hall by the two co-chairs of the report, Purnima Mane and Debrework Zewdie, for whom you may also have questions.
UNICEF is committed to building a caring and respectful work culture for all — a culture that sets the bar high, as high as our mission to serve and support children around the world. Nothing less than that is acceptable.
The report’s findings and its recommendations are a guide to what we need to do, so our organization can be where it needs to be. Beyond the immediate measures we are undertaking, we need more ideas — your ideas.
I look forward to hearing from you during the Town Hall on Thursday. While the findings of this report are sobering, they also push us all to change. Each of us as individuals and as a collective whole must have the courage to change. I have personally heard from so many people about how much they welcome the changes we have made thus far. It is clear that we need to continue to change our ways of working. And we will. That is a promise I make to you.
Please join me and let us become one team with the courage and the passion to change.
Henrietta H. Fore
UNICEF Executive Director