Thursday, July 20, 2023

Never send an accused harasser on a business trip with his alleged victim

"If he wants to sleep with someone, you have to say yes. It's normal that the coach sleeps with the players in our team."

That's what an anonymous player told The Guardian about Bruce Mwape, head coach of the Zambia women's national team.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has been aware of these allegations of sexual misconduct since September 2022, and has referred the matter to FIFA for an investigation.

Here's the thing. Not only did FAZ not suspend Mwape, he's currently coaching the team, which will begin World Cup play Saturday against Japan. FAZ sent him on an international business trip with the very subordinates he's accused of abusing. To make matters worse, FAZ is allegedly threatening players with punitive action if they speak out.

Whatever's the opposite of a best practice, this is it.

When a manager is accused of sexual harassment (or worse, sexual assault or other misconduct), separate him from the alleged victim(s). If necessary, send him home. Put him on ice until the investigation is complete. It protects everyone involved, including the accused, but especially the alleged victim(s). You don't let him keep working, especially with his alleged victim(s). And you definitely don't send him on a business trip to a foreign country with his alleged victim(s).

FAZ, do better. Employers, learn from their mistake.