Gender Consultant on Sexual Harassment Prevention at the Workplace

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TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR A GENDER CONSULTANT FOR THE CAIRO INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS STUDIES ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT PREVENTION AT THE WORKPLACE

Date: August 11, 2020
Deadline for submission of proposal: August 30

1.  BACKGROUND

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) seeks a consultant to carry out an investigation into workplace practices and policies, in regard to how the institute deals with sexual harassment in the workplace, though, analysis, reflection and knowledge-sharing.

CIHRS is a regional organization based primarily in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with offices in Brussels and Geneva. It works on promoting, defending human rights in the MENA region, and consists of 38 staff members from different cultural, religious, ethnic and political backgrounds.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious violation to the bodily integrity which violates the employee’s dignity, creating a degrading and humiliating environment and violates the concept of safe working space.  It constitutes a major barrier for people of all genders and specifically women in accessing a safe, decent and productive work. Additionally, it limits women’s chances to personal achievements at work and affect their career advancement. Sexual harassment has a serious negative impact on the physical and psychological health of staff members of the organization. As this type of behaviour constitutes a grave violation to a person’s well-being, CIHRS prioritizes combatting any type of gender-based violence and discrimination including sexual harassment in the workplace. CIHRS takes allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace very seriously and will use all available means to address and hold to account employees who violated the organization’s code of conduct in relation to sexual harassment.

CIHRS is conscious that an important component of its work is done in collaboration with external parties including partners, consultants, trainees, volunteers and participants to its networking and training events. As such, CIHRS wants to include specific attention to the issue of sexual harassment to ensure that its current policies and good practices are applicable to individuals who are not CIHRS staff, to ensure a safe space for CIHRS staff, partners and others with whom the organization interacts.

The CIHRS Staff Handbook establishes the institute’s adoption of a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment. Nevertheless, CIHRS would like to review its working culture and policies and how they have evolved over time to ensure that this zero-tolerance policy is applied in practice. CIHRS recognizes that existing interventions such as auditing and setting up anti-harassment committees are not enough to tackle the root causes of sexual harassment, and violence, including against women; when carried out in silos. The absence of complaints doesn’t indicate the absence of sexual harassment. CIHRS recognizes that survivors of sexual harassment often don’t file complaints because they are afraid of the repercussions of their complaints, including potentially losing their jobs, or bullying, exposure and further victimization. Additionally, there are views that the complaint would not be taken seriously or lead to any effective remedy.

The CIHRS management is conscious that sexual harassment is often a taboo issue. The social constructions in the patriarchal societies we live and operate in regard as “normal” or “acceptable” verbal harassment, and abuse, including some forms of Gender Based Violence. In this coercive environment, survivors can be less aware of their rights and remedies available to combat the sexual abuse to which they are subjected.  To address the environment in which CIHRS operates, it is essential for the consultancy to focus on social constructions and deconstruct the acceptance of sexual harassment behaviours. The consultancy should also provide a holistic approach to promoting positive gender relations in the workplace.

With these considerations in mind, CIHRS is recruiting an external consultant(s) that would be willing to investigate the current working culture and policies and identify gaps in current policies and practices that need to be remedied, specifically the anti-sexual harassment policy. helping CIHRS to align its polices and investigate with current and past employees/trainees/partners, any issues that they identify as needing to be addressed to ensure that CIHRS is a safe space for all, in line with CIHRS core values and the human rights principles it is set to promote and protect.

Purpose of the Assignment

The expert(s) are expected to investigate, analyse and raise awareness among staff about issues of sexual harassment, in the workplace, as well as possible remedies in the event of harassment as such review the existing policies and tools for complaints and sanctions. This would require the expert(s) to analyse current and past policies, practices, through conducting interviews with current and past staff as well as partners and trainees and provide solutions in the shape of ways to move forward, including recommendations on needed policy and structural changes. The expert(s) would be asked to raise awareness on the issue of safe space and sexual harassment in particular amongst staff and ensure the presence of sufficient materials that would be distributed to future staff, trainees and partners to raise their awareness on this issue.

Tasks:

  • Conduct thorough confidential interviews with a representative sample of current and former staff and partners, on the working conditions at CIHRS and the extent to which CIHRS staff/partners/trainees regardless of their gender, feel/felt safe when interacting with CIHRS;
  • Undergo an assessment of the working culture at CIHRS and its impact, particularly on women working with the organization;
  • Provide analysis on the extent to which the current policies at CIHRS provide a safe environment for staff to work and provide recommendations for improvement, review current policies as well as draft new ones to cover most aspects of CIHRS work including on how to deal with cases of sexual harassment outside the workplace and within partner organizations;
  • Study verbal harassment and negative or hurtful terminologies which might be used in the workplace but should be addressed and changed, in order to put an end to any type of verbal harassment in the workplace;
  • Assist CIHRS with defining what is a hostile environment that exposes employees or others (Beneficiaries, volunteers, trainees, partners, etc.) to a risk of sexual harassment, and defining what conduct may result in/create such a hostile environment;
  • Raise awareness of CIHRS staff on the issue of sexual harassment, including – but not limited to – sharing best practices in the field and providing training kits to be distributed to future staff;
  • Provide written materials sexual harassment to be distributed to CIHRS partners during trainings to enhance their knowledge on this issue;
  • Provide written materials to be distributed to contracted personnel, such as trainers and consultants to ensure that they are able to deliver their tasks without infringing on the bodily integrity of participants to CIHRS trainings irrespective of their gender orientation,
  • Highlight any areas where structural reform is required to change the working culture of the organization, in order to ensure a more respectful workplace, particularly for women.
  • Provide recommendations on how to improve the existing complaints and investigative mechanisms on sexual harassment, and how to make them accessible to staff;
  • If allegations of sexual harassment are found, explain to the survivor(s) the existing policy in place and if the survivor(s) accept refer the case(s) to the competent administrative unit to open an investigation into the case(s);
  • Train admin and human resources staff on how best to tackle sexual harassment issues in the workplace, how to respond to allegations and investigate them and to provide assistance to survivors during the course of the investigation.

 WORKING METHOD WITH CIHRS

The CIHRS Management Committee will work with the expert(s) and provide technical and logistical support to them in conducting the assignment. In particular, CIHRS will present the relevant information for their analysis, and will arrange interviews or group meetings and other necessary activities for the purpose of the assignment. Relevant programme staff and the management committee will provide feedback on the analysis carried out. The Management Committee will provide comments on the draft assessment report, will ensure that it is available in both Arabic and English, and will organize the dissemination of the final report to all staff.

2. KEY DELIVERABLES

The consultant will provide the following deliverables:

  • Methodology, including research questions and interview/focus group guides;
  • Draft analysis on the extent to which the current policies at CIHRS provide a safe environment for staff to work, and provide recommendations and draft modifications for improvement;
  • Draft an assessment of the working culture at CIHRS and its impact on women working with the organization;
  • Provide edits and amendments to the existing Sexual Harassment Policy as needed;
  • Suggest policies on hostile environment and dealing with any oppression in the workplace;
  • Draft a guide on sexual conduct and anti-harassment policies to be distributed in different activities, specially trainings
  • Train staff members on aspects related to the outcome of the assessment and provide kits for future staff.

All deliverables shall be presented in English or Arabic. The exact report format will be agreed upon with the consultant prior to commencing the assignment.

The findings, analysis, conclusions and recommendations should be thorough and the links between them clear. The recommendations should be concrete and presented in a logical structure in correlation with their importance and level of detail.

3. TIMELINE

The period of audit will be 3 months starting 20 September 2020, with the final report to be delivered by December 20, 2020. The presentation/training events will take place (within a month of the completion of the final report).

4. REQUIREMENTS FOR THE CONSULTANT

The consultant (teamed with a second member if possible) shall correspond to the following requirements:

  1. University degree in social sciences or another relevant field. A Master’s or PhD degree in Gender Studies or a related field will be considered as an advantage;
  2. At least five years’ experience in working with gender equality programming. Experience in promoting gender equality and mainstreaming within non-governmental organizations will be considered as an advantage;
  3. Knowledge of analytical methods and tools for mainstreaming gender in the non-profit sector or related areas required;
  4. Knowledge of and experience in the Arab region is required;
  5. Excellent writing, reporting, communication and training skills in English and/or Arabic required.

5. APPLICATION PROCESS

Interested consultants should submit their proposals before August 30, 2020 via email to [email protected] , including cover letter and CV, and including if possible links or attachments to two most relevant similar assignments; and an outline of the envisaged methodology for the assignment (outlining the overall approach and suggested methods, including a proposed plan of action with timelines, potential challenges and ways to overcome these challenges).

Please indicate which position you are applying for in the subject line of the email.

Disbursement and payment modalities will be agreed upon by both parties and specified in the contract with the Consultant.