‘Toxic’ Amnesty Workplace Sparks Criticism of Australian Social Sector Culture

A staff review uncovering a “toxic workplace environment” in Amnesty International’s London office has sparked criticism over the unspoken, harmful workplace culture within some of Australia’s social sector.

The review, which was commissioned following the suicides of two staff members in 2018, found a dangerous “us and them” mentality between management and staff, which it said threatened Amnesty’s status as a humanitarian leader.

“Any organisation that touts protecting human rights as its mission but is itself mired in a conflictual and adversarial culture will lose credibility,” the report said.

It revealed staff felt their hard work within the organisation was not appreciated by management, and senior staff used Amnesty’s mission as a reason to not deal with complaints.

“Doing so under the guise that staff ‘should be grateful for being able to work at Amnesty’,” the report said.

The sector attracted very compassionate and hardworking people, who were passionate and emotionally connected to the issues they were working on, it could make it a hard choice to speak out about being treated badly.

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