Over the past three years a number of complaints of sexual harassment were made by women who worked for Greenpeace India. More recently an allegation of rape at a private party was made by a former colleague against another Greenpeace India staff member. We are profoundly disturbed that Greenpeace India could be the kind of workplace where this could happen, and we are equally disturbed by inexcusable failures in how these complaints were handled.

There are no words that can fully express the regret that we feel, and no excuses for the decisions made. We have apologised before to our colleagues and we apologise again. That apology is unreserved and unconditional. But we know that this apology carries little weight until we can show that this cannot and will not happen again.

Two staff members who were the subject of complaints have been told to clear their desks and not return.

But it took too long for that to happen, and it’s also clear that simply removing these staff members alone won’t address the deeper issues that have come to light. The response by Greenpeace India to the complaints made by our colleagues fell far short of what it should have been. Very far short. We simply didn’t live up to the values that Greenpeace India holds dear - justice, compassion, fairness, and accountability. And the victims of that failure were the women who made the complaints. That response has now been the subject of a thorough independent review by Greenpeace International, the global head office based in Amsterdam.

The review has now been finished, and today it was sent to our colleagues who made the complaints. In summary, the review found that:

  • In the earlier cases it was a major failing for the then HR Manager to have declared these cases not to have been “sexual harassment” and not to have informed the two complainants of the outcomes of their original complaints in December 2012. This failing was a major contributor to the subsequent breakdown of trust and the failure to achieve satisfactory closure to the cases, both procedurally and personally for the people concerned

  • Based on the anecdotal accounts contained within the complaints, as well as in the descriptions of behaviours around the complaints, it appears that there is an internal cultural problem in Greenpeace India. This conclusion is based in part on reported comments from senior managers that made light of the harassing behaviours.

The review then makes a number of recommendations:

  • Strong and visible steps need to be taken to ensure zero tolerance of sexual harassment. This should include a robust, independent and confidential system that delivers justice in any future cases.

  • There is a suggestion that some women were pressured not to carry through with complaints because Greenpeace India is under intense pressure from the Government and is fighting for its survival. Senior management must actively, directly and explicitly discourage such behaviour.

  • There should be an external audit of the procedures in place to address issues of sexual harassment and/or bullying, and the internal culture in which those procedures sit. There should also be ongoing external oversight to ensure changes are made.

In other words, independent experts from outside Greenpeace India should be consulted on what the best procedures are. The aim is to change the culture here, and to ensure any future complainants get justice. Those experts will then have responsibility for ensuring the new procedures are implemented and effective.

You can read the review here

Actions taken in response to this review cannot undo the mistakes that were made. But we are confident that this review will start some crucial conversations within Greenpeace India - not just about the processes that failed, but also about our work culture and the kind of organisation we want to be.