Unit 2: The importance of a safe organisational culture


2.1 Are organisational values aligned with safeguarding principles?

Safeguarding is not just about policies, procedures and practices – although this is essential. It is also about having the organisational culture that does not tolerate all forms of harm, particularly SEAH.

Culture can be difficult to articulate and particularly challenging for those within the organisation to assess. ‘Organisational culture’ is often described as the personality of an organisation and as ‘the way we do things around here’. It encompasses the underlying values, beliefs and codes of practice that make an organisation the unique entity it is.

It is expressed through the organisation’s vision, mission statement and values, and can be seen through behaviour, language, customs, rules, group interaction and habits (Williams, 2018). It gives a sense of identity to employees and tacitly provides guidelines on how to get along in the organisation.

Setting, monitoring and reviewing organisational culture is pivotal to effective safeguarding. The way organisations treat their staff reflects on how they treat their partners and those they seek to help (for example, clients, beneficiaries, communities, partners). Organisations should provide spaces for their staff to speak up and listen to suggestions, opinions and concerns regarding safety and wellbeing.

Most especially, organisations should convey the message that concerns related to any mistreatment will be addressed. This is important because an unsafe workplace can lead to unsafe programming and ways of working, leading to harm, abuse, exploitation, and harassment. In unit 1 you learnt how the role of leaders is pivotal, as they should lead by example and foster good relationships with their staff and between their staff.