In February, BBC’s Africa Eye and Panorama programmes broadcast some deeply shocking and upsetting testimony of sexual exploitation from women working at James Finlay Kenya. The documentaries contain footage of two contractors who have worked on Finlays sites which indicate serious sexual misconduct.
There is no place for behaviour of this kind anywhere in our business. We firmly believe that everyone should feel safe when they come to work at Finlays. That is why we have robust policies and procedures in place – such as comprehensive guidance to staff, detailed and continuous training programmes, an anonymous third-party whistle blowing hotline, as well as dedicated welfare and medical staff available on site – to prevent abuse of any kind.
However, the experiences these women have shared clearly show that we need to go further and do better.
We have taken a number of decisive steps in response to the BBC’s reporting, to protect and support everyone at Finlays:
- We have terminated the contracts of the two individuals featured in the BBC investigation and barred them from all Finlays sites.
We terminated our agreement with John Chebochok’s company Sislo Holdings. All 300 contractors who were working with us through Sislo have been offered direct employment to ensure their livelihoods are not affected – 98% have accepted. Both individuals have been barred from entering James Finlay Kenya.
- We reported the BBC allegations against John Chebochok and John Asava to the Kenyan Police.
We will continue to work closely with the police, sharing any additional information that results from investigations.
- Two independent investigations have been launched to fully understand what happened and where we can improve.
These investigations will cover two key areas – firstly, examining the specific cases of exploitation raised within the programme; secondly, where we can improve our approach to preventing and addressing any sexual violence, abuse, or harassment across the James Finlay Kenya sites. The first part of the investigation will be led by the Kenyan law firm Bowmans, while the second part will be led by ethical working practices NGO Partner Africa, which specialises in identifying risks to people and implementing robust protection standards.
- While the investigation is underway, we are reminding all Finlays workers of the existing safeguarding measures in place.
Critically this includes an anonymous third-party whistle blowing hotline. If any of our employees or contractors feel that their concerns aren’t been addressed appropriately or they are fearful of coming forward, any reporting to this line will be treated in the strictest confidence and investigated by our team in London. Further to this we have engaged two independent organisations to provide additional support and counselling to all at James Finlay Kenya. Two trained counsellors are already on site providing private counselling and welfare support, free of charge, to all at JFK. We are also increasing the in-person visibility of the extensive welfare team at James Finlay Kenya.
These reports are incredibly serious. Finlays remains wholly committed to implementing immediate initiatives comprehensively and at speed, as well as taking any further decisive action that will ensure our workers feel protected and supported.
For further information on how Finlays is taking action to ensure worker safety, please see below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Why has Finlays chosen Partner Africa to investigate these issues
Partner Africa is a leading independent responsible working practices NGO, working with multinational companies and their staff to pinpoint why issues such as sexual abuse and harassment are happening. They have extensive experience of developing impactful improvement plans to prevent experiences of this kind and support those affected by them. We’re confident that, for these reasons, Partner Africa is the right organisation to deliver this impartial review.
- Will the investigations be fully independent?
The investigations will be wholly independent. Management across Finlays will ensure that the Partner Africa teams have full access to everyone who works at James Finlay Kenya, our records, and all processes and procedures in place. We are wholly committed to taking decisive action on the investigation findings to prevent any experiences like this happening in the future.
- What is Finlays’ current approach to workforce welfare and safety?
The health, safety and wellbeing of everyone who works at James Finlay Kenya has been, and always will be, our top priority. To safeguard our employees, we have a range of measures in place from dedicated Health and Safety teams to comprehensive policies and protocols to protect workers and ensure that any issues can be reported and resolved quickly. Recently, we have introduced a revised health and safety strategy involving daily H&S meetings where issues are openly discussed, encouraging a speak up culture.
- What safeguards are currently in place to prevent and address sexual abuse at Finlays?
There are a number of safeguards in place against sexual abuse across our international operations, including JFK. These include:
- Robust policies developed with guidance from relevant authorities and external experts, which all workers are extensively trained on including a harassment and sexual offenses policy, child protection policy, gender equality and diversity policy and grievance handling policy
- Dedicated welfare and medical teams
- An anonymous reporting hotline
However, the experiences these women have shared clearly show that we need to go further and do better, which will be a focus of the independent Partner Africa investigation. We are committed to acting on their recommendations in full.