Special Announcement

 

 

WBFN Impact/Advocacy - The Program

Since the summer of 2000, the WBFN Spouse Issues committee has functioned as a Domestic Abuse (DA) Task Force, documenting examples of abusive relationships in the World Bank Group
(WBG) community.
We identified practical steps that could minimize damage to our families from DA, aiming also to “level the playing field” for our non-US victims, who face special challenges in trying to improve their situation, compared with abused US citizens.
Management was presented with our ideas on several occasions, most recently in July 2003. This led to a productive collaboration with the “DA Network” within the WBG, to elaborate, refine,
and implement the recommendations.
The recommendations included
1) Provision of Coordinated, Practical, Victim Services
  • An interview of Hada Zaidan, HRSSC DA Coordinator, in the October 2004 issue of Mosaic, described the range of confidential, free, external services the WBG has made available to those in our community who feel trapped in abuse situations.
  • Any staff or family member who feels they could benefit from the expert help described should contact The HUB, our specialized assistance and referral service, available 24/7 on 202-628- 2288. Help is available in languages besides English.

2) Oversight of all significant aspects of the WBG’s DA program to ensure that agreed activities are delivered as intended, and to assess their effect.
3) Institutional changes

  • the removal of “institutional obstacles”, chiefly those concerning outreach to new spouse/partners, their access to staff member’s benefits information, their independence in applying for Employment Authorization, and the lag period before the WBG will act to ensure staff members’ compliance with court-ordered payment obligations to family
  • preventive educational measures for staff and families, including production and dissemination of informational material, and ongoing, formal awareness- and knowledge-building events The WBG has introduced new activities, and made multiple changes to the Staff Rules and administrative practices, to address these recommendations. While some adjustments, such as
  • improved spouse/partner access to benefits information, have been fully realized, others remain works in progress.
  • formulation and staff notification of corporate policy on DA

Most recently the WBG announced its stance on DA. This has special significance for us, because the new policy affirms that the organization’s expectation of the highest standards of staff behavior includes honorable conduct towards family members, fulfilling a major WBFN advocacy goal.
Mr Wolfensohn’s Yellow Letter sent to all staff October 25th made clear the formal obligation for staff to conduct themselves creditably at work and in private, that DA involves illegal behaviors, was misconduct that would not be tolerated, that the WBG would not allow abusers to “hide behind” its immunities, and a commitment to helping victims.
On October 26th, an amendment to the Code of Professional Ethics that addresses DA was released. This reiterated Mr Wolfensohn’s powerful statements, emphasizing that the WBG’s immunities do not cover perpetrators, and served notice that the WBG may, at its discretion, act against domestic abusers on the staff.
Fittingly, the Code amendment was developed through a long collaborative process led by the Ethics Office, resulting in a formulation that has the support of the broad base of participating management and staff constituencies, as well as WBFN.
Staff attention to these important announcements was ensured through the main feature on the Intranet Today, October 26th. This article, DA Awareness, showcased the different aspects of the WBG DA response, with relevant links to the Yellow Letter, the Code amendment, the WBFN website, Mosaic articles on DA, HUB, and Network information. The article can be accessed in the Today archives on the Intranet.
These latest developments would not have been possible without the staunch support of the Bank President, the VP for HR, and the Head of the Office of Ethics and Business Conduct. They position the WBG DA response solidly on a foundation of the “family” values of integrity, trust, honesty, and respect that are embodied in the Code of Professional Ethics. Significantly for our globally mobile community, the Code governs staff conduct regardless of duty station, and so its application does not depend on the family law of the country in which the family is stationed.
Now that the Bank has clearly signaled its support for DA victims, and its position on DA perpetrated by staff, we look forward to the more timely and equitable resolution of abuse situations.
This will help our needy families, and reflect credit on the organization.

Myra Jacobs