18 January 2018
As the Board of Directors of Climate Action Network (CAN) International, we recognize that CAN must stand for and practice the values that the global climate movement espouses: equity, respect, and protection of those suffering most from the climate crisis, who are disproportionately women. The Board is committed to practicing these values of our climate movement in our own network, where bullying, harassment, and any other forms of abusive treatment and violence against women should not be tolerated.
Mindful of these values, the Board of Directors of CAN International has terminated the contract with its Executive Director, Wael Hmaidan with immediate effect. The Board’s decision is based on the outcomes of a six week long, independent workplace investigation that reviewed complaints about Mr. Hmaidan’s actions and treatment of others, particularly the CAN International Secretariat staff. As part of the investigation, Mr. Hmaidan had an opportunity to respond to allegations. The investigation found a preponderance of evidence that Mr. Hmaidan violated CAN’s anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, through engaging in the following behaviour: bullying, objectification of women, misuse of power, inequitable treatment of women, inappropriate touching and unwelcome advances and propositions, and behaviour generally unbecoming of an organisational leader.
The Board wishes to express its sincere apologies on behalf of Climate Action Network International to those who have personally experienced harassment, bullying, and other forms of unacceptable behaviour. CAN should be an organisation with a respectful, safe and healthy work environment which does not tolerate any forms of bullying and sexual and other types of harassment. We regret that this was not the experience for all staff members of CAN International, and that appropriate mechanisms and actions to address inappropriate behaviour had not sufficiently been put in place previously. For this, we are truly sorry.
The Board wants to thank those individuals who participated in the investigation and voluntarily came forward to share their experiences. We understand how difficult this is and applaud them for their courage, strength, and commitment to improving our network. The majority of people who participated in the investigation asked for their input to remain confidential, and some asked for no further communication. The Board respects their wishes.
The Board is taking immediate and necessary steps to identify new leadership for CAN International as well as review the overall organisational structure with the intent to ensure a healthy and safe work environment at CAN International. We will take into account recommendations of the investigation in order to be able to identify and address workplace issues.
In addition, the investigation report also identified areas of concern and provided recommendations in relation to organisational and governance aspects. The Board has decided on a number of initial steps in this regard and will consult with the Secretariat and members on appropriate further steps, drawing on external expertise as needed.
The Board is determined to give full consideration to the recommendations provided. We will work with the CAN International Secretariat and CAN members to prevent and stop similar misconduct going forward. We aim to emerge from this crisis as a healthier and more professional organisation which protects its staff and other individuals within the Network, giving ourselves the strongest possible basis to fight the climate crisis in light of the growing urgency to act.
Issued by the CAN International Board of Directors firstname.lastname@example.org