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Introduction: About the scandal

Discuss about the Change Management and Oxfam Scandal for Humanitarian Work.

Established by the Oxfam family, Oxfam International is one of the most reputed charitable organizations in United Kingdom (Oxfam International | The power of people against poverty). However, February 2018 turned out to be the black letter day for the organization. There was massive media furore against Oxfam aid workers who were found to be guilty of using sex workers during their fieldwork in Haiti. The former director of Operations, Roland Van Hauwermeiren was reported to have sex workers in his villa that was rented for the purpose of charity. The chief executive officer of Oxfam, Mark Golring extended his apology and condemned the depraved behaviour of his employees. The President of Haiti, Jovenel Moise was extremely critical of the incident and it termed it as gross violation of human dignity. This paper examines the Oxfam sex scandal and contextualizes it within the broader discourse of humanitarian work. It uses the framework of ADKAR change management to recommend changes concludes my views on the impact of the proposed changes.

The Reports of 2011 against the infamous Oxfam sex scandal might be appalling ad repulsive for people all over but it is rooted in the broader context of the discourse of humanitarian work that has swept across the world. The charitable organizations and aid workers manifest white man’s’ burden in performance of their duties. The white colonial mentality of the white man being a savior of the distressed third-world population is the banal representation of humanitarian work (Easterly). An illustration of this would be the exploitative images of children deployed by these philanthropic organizations in their banners and posters. This further reinforces stereotypes about the nations in the global south and justifies the endeavour of colonial encroachment through humanitarian in these parts of the world. Tropical neurasthasia, identified as a condition emerging from the onerous nature of fieldwork in the humid climate and deprivation from the requisite leisure in life. Therefore, it was argued that sex with the native was a respite from the demanding work schedule (Kempadoo). This kind of an understanding embedded in the colonial ideology shifted the burden on the victims and external factors rather than shaming the perpetrators. This underscores on the confluence between masculinity and racial superiority that have informed the contemporary state of humanitarian work. The mainstream representation of the Haiti incident is conflated with problems. The under-age victims were labelled as child prostitutes instead of labelling the white aid workers as sexual offenders for having sex with underage girls. Blaming the women in the countries of Haiti, Chad, Liberia amongst others amounts to a myopic understanding about the magnitude of the issue (Aid charities ordered to improve standards following Oxfam scandal). For women deprived of basic amenities in conflict prone zones, any opportunity to earn their food becomes an imperative. Therefore, this is a trap for these women and an opportunity to purchase pleasure by the aid workers in the guise of social work. Instead of gaining a deeper insight into the ordeals and lifeworld of these women and not busting the unequal, exploitative network of relationship that is emerging, there is a bird’s eye view of the situation (Haiti suspends Oxfam GB operations). People all over the world are conditioned to believe that these influential organizations are operating on a moral vacuum. The recent media outrage and uproar from the public is more about the money of the British taxpayers going to waste rather than addressing the genuine cause of the victims (Hornstein). Earlier, there has been a spate of sex scandals that emerged in the limelight but those were short-lived, thus highlighting the biased, unfair and vested interests of the civil society and the British citizens.

Identification for the need for change and analysis of the situation

Following the shameful incident, Oxfam has lost 7, 000 donors who have till now provided patronage to the organizations (Elgot and Karen). Golring has been worried about such a consequence and talked about how corporate donors are scrutinizing the incident to make their next decision. A report based on internal investigation compiled on 2011 found that seven employees have left the organization in the light of the scandal. Former country director of Oxfam, Hauwermeiren has resigned following his involvement in the sex abuse scandal and four staff members have been ordered to leave the organization. The internal inquiry unveiled that the witness to the incident have been threatened physically by three men who have been identified as abusers. Oxfam has been used of covering-up the incident. Since the spread of the news, 26 allegations of misconduct reports have emerged, out of which 16 incidents are associated with the international missions.

The analysis of the Oxfam incident has led me to adopt the ADKAR model of change management. This model is premised on a bottom-up approach that emphasizes on the individuals behind the change (Artman, Knut and Eric Jonsson). This model is befitting to the concerned situation as it involves all the stakeholders in the organization to be a part of the change through creating awareness among the employees about the motivation to change (Cameron and Mike). This should be done bringing together the different employees in the organizational hierarchy together and discuss with them the ways change will be implemented. In this case, weekly gender sensitization workshops and verbal feedbacks through discussion is a pragmatic step. The second step would be to inspire the members of the organization to remain committed to these proposed changes by continuously making them aware the inhumanness of exploiting the countries they are working. The knowledge step according to the ADKAR model will be utilized in this case by setting up an external committee who would keep a tab on the activities the employees and through an in-house counsellor. The multiple methods of the ADKAR model will enable me to come up different methods to address the issue based on the nature and intensity of the issues (Hayes). Accountability and checks-and-balance approach among the vertical and horizontal organizational hierarchy needs to be ensure with the aim to foster a more egalitarian and just organization. There is a need to protect the whistleblowers so that they feel emboldened to speak out about any misconduct violation within the organization. I would expect the Oxfam family to continuously meet with the employees and not solely depend on the chief executive and other authorities to carry out the task. I would exhort the Oxfam family to have conversations with the different employees to understand their concerns and at the same time to change the centralized authority in the organizational structure. The change would be initiated from April 5, 2018 and would continue for a period of three months followed by the valuation of the proposed change model.

The Oxfam scandal has shook the world but such incidents are not new. In fact, these are located in the larger discourse of the white colonial worldview towards the poor, developing nations. They operate with the view that it is justified to engage in such frivolous activities due to their exacting nature of work. However, such an attitude not just spoils the image of accompany but it further tarnishes the image of social work and humanitarian service. This was evident in the loss of patronage and blow on the reputation of Oxfam on a global platform. The recommended changes might not turn out to be successful during its first time implementation. However, the essence of the bottom-approach is an urgent need considering the attitude of the contemporary humanitarian organizations towards their aid-work in the nations of the global south. I strongly feel that an enhanced accountability, checks-and- balance, establishment of an external committee to review the behaviour of the employees and periodic conversations between the different levels of the hierarchy looks promising for ushering in the much-needed change in the framework of social and humanitarian work.

References

Aid charities ordered to improve standards following Oxfam scandal". the Guardian, 2018. Online. Internet. 1 Apr. 2018. . Available: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/05/aid-charities-ordered-to-improve-standards-following-oxfam-scandal.

Artman, Knut, and Eric Jonsson. "Managing Change in the Warehouse. a structured change management methodology when implementing a warehouse management system."Master Thesis in Technology Management (2014).

Cameron, Esther, and Mike Green. Making sense of change management: A complete guide to the models, tools and techniques of organizational change. Kogan Page Publishers, 2015.

Easterly, William. The white man's burden: why the West's efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good. Tantor Media, 2017.

Elgot, Jessica, and Karen McVeigh. "Oxfam loses 7,000 donors since sexual exploitation scandal". the Guardian, 2018. Online. Internet. 1 Apr. 2018. . Available: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/20/oxfam-boss-mark-goldring-apologises-over-abuse-of-haiti-quake-victims.

Haiti suspends Oxfam GB operations". BBC News, 2018. Online. Internet. 1 Apr. 2018. . Available: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43163620.

Hayes, John. The theory and practice of change management. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Hornstein, Henry A. "The integration of project management and organizational change management is now a necessity."International Journal of Project Management 33.2 (2015): 291-298.

Kempadoo, Kamala. "The modern-day white (wo) man’s burden: Trends in anti-trafficking and anti-slavery campaigns."Journal of Human Trafficking 1.1 (2015): 8-20.

"Oxfam International | The power of people against poverty". Oxfam.org, 2018. Online. Internet. 1 Apr. 2018. . Available: https://www.oxfam.org/en.

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