Incidents of sexual harassment within the “World Bank” .. and an admission of lack of protection

The results of an internal investigation conducted by the Labor Court of the World Bank, based in the American capital, Washington, revealed that the bank’s senior management “failed” to protect several of the bank’s female employees from the harassment of a senior official who became Minister of Finance in Costa Rica and a presidential candidate after leaving the service.

and according The Wall Street Journal, which has seen the decision of the relevant court, did not take adequate punitive measures against Rodrigo Chavez, the top management during the tenure of the former bank president, David Malpass, and only reduced his job and did not fire him.

Two women who brought a court case against Chavez said they were just the “tip of the iceberg” among the “large number of victims” in the case.

The administration took this insufficient decision despite allegations of sexual harassment over a period of at least 4 years, against 6 women.

Harassment patterns, which persisted between 2009 and 2013, included unwanted sexual innuendos, erotic looks, kissing attempts, unsolicited invitations to female employees to hotels and vacations, women asking about their personal relationships, and comments about their physical appearance.

For his part, Chavez denied sexual harassment of his female colleagues, telling the newspaper that the complaints may stem from “cultural differences”.

A World Bank spokesperson said the institution maintains confidentiality on ethics issues to protect staff implicated in allegations of misconduct and to preserve the integrity of investigations.

The bank apologized to the women for its mishandling of the case and said it had taken steps to ensure that female complainants had a greater voice in sexual harassment cases.

He decided not to re-hire the former official, restricted his access to the World Bank, and informed the IMF’s security team of these restrictions as well.

“Like many large organizations, we know we can always do better, and we must make sure we take every necessary step to prevent wrongdoing and support sexual harassment survivors,” said Annette Dixon, the bank’s current head of human resources.

One of the accused’s victims, according to investigations, said that he “liked her when she bent down once and dropped something on the ground and asked her to pick it up for him, which she refused.” “The harassment was on a daily basis,” she was quoted as telling investigators, but Chavez denied that this happened.

An economic researcher at the bank told investigators that in mid-2009 he indicated to her that he “had sex with six animals and asked them directly if she had cheated on anyone or if she was in a relationship with a married man.”

Chavez responded that “her actions can be construed as a threat in light of their potential negative effects on my reputation, my relationship with my family, and my career at the bank.”

In 2017, the World Bank’s Ethics Department began investigating allegations of harassment, and in late 2019, the Human Resources department imposed an administrative penalty on him, which included a downgrading to a non-managerial position and a three-year salary freeze, for “inappropriate behavior of a nature”. nationality”.

The administration made no reference in its decision to sexual harassment, which under the bank’s guidelines would have led to immediate dismissal. It did not take any action to protect the victims from it during and after the investigation, according to the documents.

In the decision letter, the human resources department referred to Chavez’s “excellent” track record of more than two decades of service and winning, and winning, the Bank’s award for “diversity and inclusion.”

“The female employees were deeply disappointed with the bank’s initial handling of the case, in light of the highlighting of sexual harassment in recent years and the bank’s stated commitment to seriously addressing the problem,” the bank’s employees’ union said in a review of the case.

Chavez left the bank, in 2019, after weeks of downgrading his position, to become Minister of Finance in Costa Rica. After his exit, the bank granted the Ministry of Finance, which he heads, a loan of $ 157 million, and he continued to establish professional relations with both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

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