Dear colleagues in Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Delhi and Amman, and Country Management teams: Medical, Logistical, Financial and HR Coordinators,
Many of you by now will have read the Tuesday August 18th piece on the New Humanitarian - and in case you have not - we share it here: https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/opinion/first-person/2020/08/18/MSF-Amsterdam-aid-institutional-racism
It is a very painful, but important, account of behaviour that cannot and will not be accepted within our organisation.
As the OCA MT, we are deeply sorry for Arnab’s experience working in the Amsterdam office. We welcome his article, and appreciate his courage speaking out in this way.
A member of the MT has been in contact with Arnab since his departure, and heard first-hand his account of his time working in Amsterdam. We wish here to reiterate our apology to him.
We remain committed to this important dialogue and have reached out to Arnab again since the publication of the article. In addition, we are in touch with our colleagues at MSF in Canada, as we all agree on the seriousness of the situation and recognise that we share responsibility for what has happened.
As an MT, we fully acknowledge the existence of institutional racism and other forms of discrimination inside our organisation and have made a series of commitments to address them, (which you can read here). Tuesday’s piece only serves to further emphasise the urgency and necessity to meet these.
We would also like to extend our appreciation to Arnab for his work with L&D. Challenges in the department have resulted in a number of structural and strategic changes, including new leadership for the team. Building on Arnab’s work, OCA L&D is now shifting from face-to-face trainings to online learning, with renewed focus on accessibility for all staff – regardless of where they are, or which job they have. This, of course, has also been accelerated by COVID-19, but builds upon the foundations he helped to create.
We, the OCA MT, are committed to further acting upon the experience that Arnab has shared in conjunction with staff from across the organisation including our colleagues in L&D. This experience underscores the importance of organisational and individual learning from this unacceptable and painful experience of one of our colleagues.
In closing, we would like to invite you to an all-Amsterdam staff meeting for OCA staff next week, further details on that will follow. This will be an opportunity to continue our dialogue, gather feedback and update you on the steps that have been taken since we last communicated on institutional racism back in June.
If you have experienced or witnessed similar behaviour, we urge you to use the resources already in place listed below; or speak to your line manager/a person whom you trust.
- For official complaints related to behavioural issues, contact the Responsible Behaviour Unit: firstname.lastname@example.org More information on the RBU here.
- If you do not wish to make a formal complaint, but would like to discuss concerns you have, contact the OCA Respect Team: email@example.com
- Psychosocial Staff Health Unit Staffhealthunit.firstname.lastname@example.org
With best wishes
Nelke, Mihaela, Melissa, Olli, Shekhar, Florian, Christian and Vickie