Articles

Strengthening CSOs from within: Building policy frameworks

April 2021 | INDIA

A request iProbono often receives from its partner organisations including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) is for advice on their internal policies. By providing pro bono or reduced fee legal support advice to ensure robust organisational policies, iProbono enables CSOs to use their resources for other core areas of their work, without having to incur additional legal expenses.

In any organisation, good policies and seamless procedures are as essential as stationery. Policy is a key pillar that brings structure to an establishment, provides guidelines, ensures consistency, and contributes to a healthy work atmosphere. Implementing these policies and procedures also prepares an organisation to deal with crises and prevent legal liabilities. 

“The legal work that iProbono has done for the Trust is indispensable to our work on anti-trafficking. Its presence has been a true enabler, giving us the ability to systematically move ahead in our work to save more missing girls.” 

– Nayoneka Shankar, Project Manager, Missing Link Trust.

In India, many organisations are mandated to implement policies on child protection and sexual harassment. In the UK, legislation, as well as funders, require organisations to have policies covering health and safety, data protection and privacy, safeguarding equality and promoting diversity, risk management, financial procedures and grievance redressal, to name a few. 

iProbono advises organisations on a wide portfolio of internal policies and we share some examples below

“Through iProbono, our organisation was able to put in place a robust, practical Child Protection Policy that will undoubtedly help us better safeguard our beneficiaries. The process was smooth and hassle-free, and each question and concern was thoroughly addressed.” – Austin David Mobley, Head of Operations, Kutumb Foundation

A robust Child Protection Policy demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to protecting children from abuse, exploitation and negligence. A comprehensive policy will outline the measures an organisation’s representatives must take to prevent child abuse including creating safe recruitment and screening processes, lays down a Code of Conduct containing a list of permissible and prohibited activities in the course of the organisation’s representatives’ interactions with children, provides guidance on the appropriate use of children’s images or personal information, and describes the protocol for staff to report suspected or actual abuse. Organisations working with children are mandated by Indian law to have a Child Protection Policy. 

Photo Credit – Young Lives, UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In India, organisations must define procedures and rules to prevent and address sexual harassment in the work place through their Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Policy. This is mandatory for every company or organisation employing 10 or more persons in a specific location (including full time staff, part-time staff, interns and consultants). 

“iProbono caters to specific requirements of organisations, for example, one of our partner organisations wanted a gender-neutral and inclusive POSH Policy and our in-house programs team drafted a customised policy for them which can be used by complainants of all gender identities.” – Karuvaki Mohanty, Senior Program Analyst, iProbono.

An organisation’s Whistleblower Policy will safeguard the interests of employees and provides an avenue through which they can report actual or potential violations which are likely to cause financial or reputational loss to the organisation. iProbono drafted a user-friendly whistle-blower policy for a partner organisation and provided legal advice on how to effectively implement the policy in their workplace.

By implementing an Equality and Diversity Policy an organisation guarantees treating staff members and others equally and not discriminating against them based on their race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, maternity, marital or civil partnership status, gender reassignment, disability, religion or beliefs, age, or sexual orientation. 

Data Protection Policy is a statement that sets out how the organisation guides, monitors and manages the security of their data. It primarily aims to secure and protect the data stored, consumed, and managed by an organisation, including of their beneficiaries. iProbono has drafted this for our UK partners in the past.  

“Having clearly defined policies is vital for any organisation, particularly when protecting the rights of the people in its community. iProbono has worked with a number of UK partners to develop policies that build the capacity of organisations and strengthen their ability to focus on the impact of their work.” – Millie Hawes, Program Analyst, iProbono UK

The Anti-Corruption or Anti-Bribery Policy unambiguously prohibits all staff members from engaging in any form of bribery, either directly or through any third party, and requires employees to act professionally, fairly and with integrity in all their dealings.

Going a step further: iProbono training sessions 

“Creating internal policies for our partners is often insufficient. They sometimes need their staff to understand what the policy entails. We previously developed a Gender Sensitisation Seminar, which was very popular, and decided to develop a more holistic session covering gender sensitisation, the POSH Act and the organisation’s internal POSH policy.”  – Deeksha Gujral, Senior Program and Advocacy Manager, iProbono

After advising on and drafting the POSH Policy for Mijwan Welfare Society, iProbono conducted a training session for their team on how to implement the policy effectively. Through this, we addressed questions of what sexual harassment entails, the impact of gender-based discrimination or sexual harrassment at workplaces, why and how to prevent it, as well as understanding the policy and complaints mechanism.  

POSH Training Session conducted by iProbono for Mijwan Welfare Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The session on POSH conducted by the iProbono team in Hindi has helped the Mijwan Welfare Society team understand the importance of the Policy on Sexual Harassment at the workplace and its application in the organisation. I also believe that it has supported us in strengthening gender sensitivity within the team. We are grateful to iProbono for their hard work and clarity.” – Vinod Kumar Pandey, CEO, Mijwan Welfare Society.

iProbono fulfils the needs of our partner organisations at different levels and anticipates what additional ancillary support we can provide. Register with us if you require legal assistance on drafting or reviewing internal policies for your organisation. You can directly fill the form available on our website or reach out to us at contact@i-probono.com for more information.

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