We write this as two women leading a global campaigning organisation who, like many others, are extremely excited and inspired by the #MeToo movement that is changing and challenging the world around us.
We know that it is in these moments that society can be changed in many ways, and at a speed that no one thought possible. In these moments a new and better normal can arise in our societies.
We celebrate the courage and the action of women around the world who are sharing their stories, demanding justice, and changing people’s lives. We stand in solidarity with them. We join them.
Women everywhere have a right to safe space, free from harassment; we deserve equity and peace. There can be no peace without equity and no sustainability without peace.
A green peace can only be built with the knowledge that how we treat each other and how we treat the natural world share roots. We cannot change one without changing the other. The solution to each injustice holds at its centre the solution to all injustices.
In drawing inspiration and courage from women everywhere, we are also looking closer to home. We are looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking whether we like what we see. Are we doing everything we can to ensure that we deserve your trust, your support and your participation?
Is Greenpeace a model for the the safe space we want the world to be? Is it a place where everyone can thrive in their effort to protect the natural world, knowing that at the heart of the protection of our planet is our care for each other?
No, it’s not. Not yet.
Our mission to protect the planet must not blind us to the reality of the work we have to keep doing to build and maintain our own organisation as a safe space for creative, collaborative activism. We have to be realistic and honest, while we constantly strive to do and be better, we have not and do not always succeed. We are learning and are committed to continue learning from our mistakes.
We know that robust systems are needed to build and maintain a safe working environment, especially in supporting, investigating and acting on any complaints. This must be sustained by a nurturing culture of inclusivity and equity. That too takes work.
Last June, all Greenpeace offices agreed a common Integrity Package, including a Code of Conduct for how to behave, and a protocol for handling various kinds of complaints. Each office exists in a unique legal ecosystem but is in the midst of upgrading structures and processes to make sure that people are heard, that they are supported and that any necessary action is taken.
While we currently do not have a global reporting mechanism for collecting and collating what complaints have been received in every different Greenpeace office, we are working to establish one. We are committed to providing annual reporting of the number, type, outcome and any action taken for received complaints. We will do our best to achieve the right balance between transparency, accountability and confidentiality.
Ideally, we’d have no need for complaints process and reporting mechanisms, since the goal is to eliminate harassment or abuse of power in the first place.
We are working towards a culture where:
- Everyone is held to the same standard and is given the same protections;
- People feel empowered to intervene when they see harassment happening;
- People are supported, believed and encouraged to raise a complaint;
- All staff have undertaken training on harassment;
- Workshops and discussions on how to build a stronger, more inclusive and diverse culture are a regular occurrence;
- Our procedures and complaints processes are regularly reviewed and updated with the help of independent experts;
- The leadership across the organisation is dedicated in daily practice to developing our working culture;
- Our leadership and working practice reflects the broad diversity of people, culture, class and race that we are;
- Every ‘Greenpeacer’ – staff, crew and volunteer, no matter which Greenpeace office or ship they work in – has access to a trained person of trust or integrity officer, someone they know they can go to and talk to if something happens.
This can be an uncomfortable conversation. This must be an uncomfortable conversation. We welcome it with eyes and ears wide open.
It is not as some might say, or think, a distraction from our core mission or higher purpose. It is our core mission and higher purpose. How we are treated and treat others as half of the population of the planet will influence all our fates and that of the very planet itself.
Jennifer Morgan and Bunny McDiarmid are Executive Directors at Greenpeace International.