Our shared PACT: Accountability

Our shared PACT

Accountability: An accountability revolution

“There’s a real responsibility that falls on civil society organisations, schools, churches and community groups” Mansfield community workshop

“True accountability builds respect and ownership and only comes with genuine relationships” Civil society pioneers workshop

For too long many of us have focused on accountability to funders and to government.  It’s time we all focus on accountability to the communities and people we exist to serve.

Civil society organisations fear being blamed for failure, and accountability can too often mean ticking boxes or being timid: form-filling, fear and insecurity that stifles innovation and doesn’t address what really matters. Paperwork might be completed but  poor practice, abuse and inequality continue.

There is a lack of collective accountability in our systems, and cultures of silence have persisted.  Some in civil society knew of abuse at Oxfam and elsewhere, and others knew that Kids Company would fail: there was a culture of silence and this undermines shared accountability.

What matters most is the people we are here to support and our relationships with them.  From long-established charities to new social movements, we will all:

  • Be accountable first and foremost to the people, communities and causes we exist to serve – where necessary, standing up to funders and government
  • Be willing to be held to account, not just expecting others to be accountable to us but being accountable to them and developing new and more challenging ways of being accountable
  • Commit to building relationships, putting in the time and effort to seek feedback, genuinely listen and change
  • Co-design our accountability systems and practices with those we are accountable to
  • Recognise our responsibility to future generations and act accordingly
  • Adhere to common public standards on critical issues such as safeguarding, health and wellbeing

The future could include…

Civil society collaborate with local authorities to reimagine their roles, like cooperative councils as one example…  

New kinds of unions for the gig economy to hold companies to account…  

A duty to future generations in every organisation’s charter…

Organisations’ structures and behaviour valued as much as the work that they do – including in measurements, evaluation and funding…  

Organisations open and transparent about their practice and their mistakes, learning and evolving…

Thriving community media as ways are found to support it, holding those in power locally to account…

Explore 92 ways to put the PACT into practice »

Full worksheet: how to put the PACT into practice »

Stories about greater accountability:

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