NGO Soul + Strategy

024. Organizational ethics, integrity, power and governance: Alex Cole-Hamilton

May 13, 2021 Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken Season 2 Episode 24
NGO Soul + Strategy
024. Organizational ethics, integrity, power and governance: Alex Cole-Hamilton
Show Notes


What is wrong with the current approach to organizational ethics and integrity in NGOs?

Why is using a lens of power analysis so helpful to bring INGO governance into focus?

Only by looking at the very core of how organizations work,  we can begin to achieve the deep and effective change needed across the sector.

 In this episode, we discuss organizational ethics and integrity concerns in INGOs with Alex Cole-Hamilton, independent consultant.

Alex’s Bio

  • Independent consultant, advising boards and executives on ethics and integrity risks and related decision-making frameworks
  • Former head of Ethics and Compliance, Oxfam Great Britain (GB)
  • Former head of Corporate Responsibility, Oxfam GB
  • Former Ethical Trade project manager, The Body Shop 


“At that time, it felt colonial to work in the NGO sector, so I went to work in the private sector instead”

“The field of ethics and integrity is quite young in INGOs”

“This approach feels big upfront, but will actually make this work more manageable in the medium term”

  We discussed: 

  • Concrete examples of issues that are relevant for INGO’s ethics and integrity: environmental footprint; pay equity; anti-modern slavery practices; decolonizing aid; safeguarding, etc.
  • The benefits of categorizing our work on organizational ethics and integrity into three categories: 1) organizational behavior; 2) individual behavior; 3) risk and assurance
  •  It is useful to distinguish between the issues relevant to integrity and ethics, and how they need to be operationalized in individual behavior, culture, leadership, the NGO’s supply chains, etc.
  • How the steer needs to come from donors as well as those who govern the INGO to redirect some money from direct programming to organizational ethics and integrity practices – especially given the strengths of the ‘overhead myth’
  •  How abuse of power is at the root of many violations of integrity, and how a power analysis therefore can be usefully applied by boards.




Alex’s LinkedIn profile

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