WSJ News Exclusive | World Bank Mishandled Sexual-Harassment Claims, Internal Tribunal Says

The World Financial institution failed to guard two younger workers who filed sexual-harassment allegations in opposition to a veteran, high-ranking official who’s now a presidential candidate in Costa Rica, in keeping with findings launched by the financial institution’s inner labor tribunal.

The World Financial institution Administrative Tribunal discovered that senior administration underneath financial institution President

David Malpass

and his two predecessors didn’t adequately sanction

Rodrigo Chaves.

He was demoted—however not fired—regardless of a documented sample of harassment that lasted at the very least 4 years and concerned six ladies, in keeping with case-related paperwork that had been reviewed by The Wall Avenue Journal.

Mr. Chaves left the financial institution in 2019, weeks after he was demoted, to turn into Costa Rica’s finance minister.

The labor tribunal, which serves as a judicial discussion board of final resort for the financial institution’s 12,000 workers, launched the 56-page ruling in June.

Via his press secretary, Mr. Malpass declined to remark. A spokesperson mentioned that the World Financial institution maintains confidentiality in ethics instances to guard employees members concerned in allegations of misconduct and to protect the integrity of investigations.

Rodrigo Chaves left the World Financial institution in 2019, weeks after he was demoted, to turn into Costa Rica’s finance minister.


Roberto Carlos Sanchez/La Nacion/ZUMA PRESS

Jim Yong Kim,

who served as World Financial institution president from 2012 to 2019, and

Robert Zoellick,

Mr. Kim’s predecessor from 2007 to 2012, didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The financial institution apologized to the ladies for its mishandling of the case and mentioned that it has taken steps to make sure that those that convey complaints have a larger voice in sexual-harassment instances.

“Like many giant organizations, we all know we will all the time do higher, and we should guarantee we’re taking each step mandatory to forestall wrongdoing and assist survivors of sexual harassment,”

Annette Dixon,

the financial institution’s present human-resources chief, mentioned.

Mr. Chaves denied that he sexually harassed feminine colleagues. The complaints doubtless originated from “cultural variations and behaviors that, for different folks, wouldn’t be offensive,” he mentioned.

Between 2009 and 2013, Mr. Chaves engaged in a sample of unwelcome sexual advances and insinuations, in keeping with the tribunal’s findings. The tribunal reviewed testimony collected by the financial institution’s ethics division that concerned interviews with 30 witnesses. Mr. Chaves’s actions included leering, kissing makes an attempt, unwelcome invites to inns and holidays, questions on private relationships and feedback on bodily look to half a dozen ladies, together with financial institution workers, subordinates and consultants, in keeping with the findings. Two of the ladies concerned had been of their early 20s, of their first jobs and “very junior” to Mr. Chaves, in keeping with the testimony.

One of many ladies, 22 years previous on the time, informed the tribunal that Mr. Chaves started sexually harassing her inside weeks of her becoming a member of his unit as a junior affiliate in 2009. She informed investigators that Mr. Chaves commented that he favored it when she bent over, “then proceeded to drop an merchandise and ask her to choose it up for him, a request which she refused.”

“The harassment passed off every day,” she was quoted as saying to investigators.

Mr. Chaves mentioned in response to questions from the Journal that such an incident didn’t happen and that there have been no corroborating witnesses.

The 2 ladies who introduced the preliminary case in opposition to Mr. Chaves mentioned that they had been solely “the tip of the iceberg” of a “giant variety of victims” within the case.

Mr. Chaves mentioned in response that the World Financial institution and the tribunal dominated that the investigation was truthful, full and neutral.

World Financial institution President David Malpass, by means of his press secretary, declined to remark.


andrew caballero-reynolds/Agence France-Presse/Getty Photos

The Workers Affiliation, the worker union that safeguards labor rights of employees, informed the tribunal that the Financial institution’s preliminary response to the allegations confirmed a “deeply flawed understanding” of learn how to deal with sexual harassment in an establishment tasked with fostering gender inclusion and human improvement within the poorest corners of the world.

In 2007, former World Financial institution President

Paul Wolfowitz

stop over a memo he despatched to the human-resources vp, instructing him to rearrange a pay improve and promotion for Mr. Wolfowitz’s girlfriend.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn

resigned because the Worldwide Financial Fund’s managing director in 2011 after he was accused of sexual assault in a New York lodge, though the costs had been later dropped.

In accordance with the labor tribunal’s findings, the World Financial institution on this case ignored repeated complaints about Mr. Chaves’s habits at its Washington, D.C., headquarters since way back to 2009.

A World Financial institution analysis economist informed investigators that in mid-2009, after a number of affords of espresso, lunch or a mentoring relationship, she agreed to satisfy Mr. Chaves for lunch. On the lunch, Mr. Chaves made a reference to having an orgy with six totally different animals and requested her immediately whether or not she had ever cheated or had an affair with a married man.

She was quoted within the tribunal’s doc as saying that she responded to his feedback and questions by “actually staring on the plate,” “actually frozen […] in full shock.”

She mentioned she reported the incidents to her managers, who had been in a separate unit from Mr. Chaves, and wrote an e-mail to him requesting that he keep away from matters of an specific nature, in keeping with the tribunal’s report.

Mr. Chaves responded in an e-mail that her “actions may very well be construed as threatening in view of their potential destructive implications on my fame, relationship with my household and profession within the financial institution,” in keeping with the tribunal’s doc.

Queried by the Journal, Mr. Chaves wrote that the lunchtime allegations referred to subjective perceptions of occasions that the lady discovered disturbing, however that there have been no sexual advances or bodily contact.

In 2013, Mr. Chaves was promoted, changing into nation supervisor of Indonesia, a director-level place.

In 2017, one other feminine worker made a proper criticism about Mr. Chaves to the co-chair of the financial institution’s newly created working group on sexual harassment, prompting an investigation by the ethics division, in keeping with the tribunal’s ruling.

The World Financial institution mentioned it has taken steps to make sure that those that convey complaints have a larger voice in sexual-harassment instances.


Al Drago/Bloomberg Information

In testimony, the co-chair of the working group informed investigators that Mr. Chaves’s title had come up throughout casual employees conferences as a “well-known sexual harasser,” in keeping with the testimony. Additionally within the testimony, one of many ladies informed investigators it took her years to formally report, since she understood that earlier efforts by colleagues to report his “well-known” habits had been of no profit.

Two years after the criticism was made to the financial institution’s working group on sexual harassment, the ethics division filed its ultimate report back to the financial institution’s human-resources unit.

In late 2019, the human-resources division imposed an administrative sanction on Mr. Chaves, together with a demotion to a nonmanagerial place and a three-year wage freeze, for “inappropriate habits of a sexual nature.” The division made no point out in its determination letter of sexual harassment, which underneath financial institution tips would have led to fast dismissal. The division additionally took no motion to guard the victims from Mr. Chaves through the investigation and after, the tribunal discovered.

In its determination letter, the human-resources division cited mitigating circumstances, equivalent to Mr. Chaves’s “stellar” document throughout greater than 20 years of service and his successful, in 2010, a financial institution prize for “range and inclusion.” On the time he received, a number of ladies had already complained to senior employees about his harassment, in keeping with the timeline of testimony acquired by the tribunal.

“Workers had been extraordinarily dissatisfied by the financial institution’s preliminary dealing with of the case, in mild of the highlight that has been positioned on sexual harassment in recent times and the financial institution’s said dedication to deal with the difficulty severely,” the Workers Affiliation mentioned in a assessment of the case in September. The union declined to remark additional.

‘Workers had been extraordinarily dissatisfied by the financial institution’s preliminary dealing with of the case…’

— World Financial institution’s Workers Affiliation

4 months after Mr. Chaves left the financial institution to turn into Costa Rica’s finance minister, the World Financial institution accredited a $157 million mortgage to assist the finance ministry enhance Costa Rica’s tax assortment and customs operations.

Disenchanted with the end result of the 2017-2019 investigation, the 2 workers who made the unique criticism filed an enchantment to the financial institution’s inner labor tribunal. They requested not for financial compensation however for an specific recognition that Mr. Chaves engaged in sexual harassment and that he obtain a extra extreme sanction, in keeping with the tribunal’s doc. They requested that the workers themselves ought to obtain some safety. As Costa Rica’s finance minister, he continued to have skilled ties to each the World Financial institution and IMF.

Senior administration opposed the enchantment, in keeping with the tribunal’s later report, saying the ladies had no standing to take their case to the tribunal.

The Workers Affiliation, nevertheless, backed the ladies’s enchantment, and helped them with authorized charges and prices, which amounted to nearly $65,000, in keeping with the doc.

“It’s distressing that victims looking for justice for sexual harassment ought to should endure greater than two years of investigation and litigation, and the lively opposition of the financial institution after already having endured sexual harassment throughout the financial institution’s partitions,” the Workers Affiliation mentioned in its case assessment.

The financial institution declined to touch upon the Workers Affiliation’s remarks, citing the necessity to deal with personnel points confidentially.

The tribunal determined to take the case, ensuing within the June ruling.

The workers who made the complaints haven’t been publicly recognized. One in every of them nonetheless works on the World Financial institution, the opposite on the IMF, the tribunal’s report mentioned.

“Our case has been very painful and lengthy, however we’re assured that it was for a very good trigger,” the 2 victims mentioned.

“We now have seen the Financial institution’s place change because the preliminary determination, by acknowledging that the habits constituted sexual harassment and stepping as much as defend us in our particular case and at the moment engaged on new initiatives to deal with sexual harassment,” they mentioned.

Part of the financial institution’s dealing with of the accusations passed off through the tenure of former Chief Government

Kristalina Georgieva,

present head of the IMF. Via a spokeswoman, Ms. Georgieva mentioned she was unaware of the case. The financial institution’s human-resources division studies on to the president’s workplace, to not the chief government.

Along with its apology, the financial institution issued a “no rehire” flag and restricted entry of Mr. Chaves to the World Financial institution and knowledgeable the IMF safety crew of these restrictions. The tribunal additionally ordered the financial institution to cowl the ladies’s authorized charges and prices.

Mr. Chaves was just lately nominated by Costa Rica’s center-left Democratic Social Progress celebration as its presidential candidate. Polls present he’s anticipated to get lower than 5% of the vote within the February elections.

Write to Santiago Pérez at [email protected]

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