Corporate Ombudsman Office

Our Role

As a neutral broker independent of management, the Ombudsman Office is uniquely situated to serve as a listening post for a broad range of internal and external stakeholders. The Ombudsman Office hears such concerns, sometimes through a series of discussions or meetings, and works closely with the individual to craft options for moving forward or resolving the matter.

The Ombudsman uses conflict resolution processes such as facilitation, conciliation, shuttle diplomacy, and mediation to help you resolve issues.

    An Organization Ombudsman:

  • Is an informal and alternative resource that is available to all but that no one is required to use
  • Acts impartially and confidentially
  • Advocates for fair process and assists as a change agent for teamwork and collaboration, enhancing trust
  • Provides a mechanism for early problem resolution
  • Promotes better communication
  • Provides a safe place to share concerns
  • Listens without judgment
  • Helps analyze complex situations and untangle issues
  • Answers questions
  • Helps visitors access Red Cross policies and procedures
  • Helps construct non-adversarial approaches to issues
  • Facilitates the resolution of problems and disputes
  • Refers individuals to appropriate ARC resources
  • Use conflict resolution processes such as facilitation, conciliation, shuttle diplomacy, and mediation to help resolve issues.

    An Organizational Ombudsman does not:

  • Have authority to accept or provide notice of an alleged violation
  • Advocate for any individual or group
  • Participate as part of any formal grievance or complaint process
  • Share information with others without an individual's knowledge or permission
  • Conduct formal investigations
  • Testify or serve as a witness with respect to confidential communications
  • Make or change policy or administrative decisions
  • Make binding decisions or determine rights
  • Require anyone to follow ombudsman recommendations

Confidential

    We are confidential.

  • The Ombudsman Office is an off-the-record, confidential resource for any Red Cross employee or volunteer, donor, or anyone affected by the programs and mission of the American Red Cross.
  • Talking to the Ombudsman does NOT put the Red Cross on legal notice of anything because the office has been designated by statute, Red Cross by-laws and the Ombudsman Office charter as an independent entity within the Red Cross.
  • What we talk about, even the fact that you have contacted our office, will remain strictly confidential.
  • The only exception to confidentiality are: (1) where a visitor gives us permission to make a disclosure and we determine that it is appropriate to do so, and (2) situations that we determine involve an “imminent risk of serious harm,” meaning times when a person is threatening himself or someone else, or is clearly in physical harm's way.
  • The American Red Cross affirms the right of individuals to seek assistance from the Ombudsman Office without fear of retaliation.

Neutral

    We are neutral.

  • As designated neutrals, we advocate for fair process, consider the rights and interests of all parties and do not take sides.
  • We have no personal stake in the outcome of any situation and do not judge, discipline or reward anyone.
  • We work with people to help them clarify issues and identify and assess for themselves various options that may be available for raising, addressing and resolving a concern.

Informal

    We are informal.

  • Use of the Ombudsman Office is not a substitute for formal procedures, such as filing an official complaint or requesting an investigation.
  • We have no managerial authority and cannot compel action or compliance.
  • If a person wishes to place the Red Cross on notice or to request an investigation or any other management action, we can provide you with relevant information about how to do so.
  • We do not participate in any formal complaint or investigation process and do not follow a prescribed or rigid sequence of steps.

Independent

    We are independent.

  • To ensure our independence and objectivity, the Ombudsman Office is not aligned with any other Red Cross organizational unit.
  • We report directly to the President and CEO, and make regular trend reports to the Audit and Risk Management Committee of the Board of Governors.
  • We also issue an annual report to Congress.