Accountability is understood at Terre des Hommes as: ”Clear commitments in the eyes of others that have been kept”. So, as the first step on the road to reinforce an accountability culture, they streamline “accountability” to carry a positive connotation through the decision-making processes and human resource management.
Accountability begins with clear expectations and is a shared responsibility. A Terre des Hommes communication agreement including the understanding of this responsibility is used as a reference when planning and implementing. Increasingly throughout the Federation and certainly valid for its International Secretariat, accountability is a part of the hiring process, specifically addressing personal accountability in interviews for instance. They are working in making it a policy to only recruit and retain employees who embrace accountability as part of their personal values.
They are using as an example the work carried out on peer review, collective work and specific reporting to the General Assembly on the implementation throughout the organisations of Child Safeguarding Standards to develop an additional set of standards which are reported to the General Assembly. The binding aspect and the sanctions for not complying are some of the challenging issues for the Terre des Hommes.
Accountability strengthens relationships among team members and among organisations of the same Federation because they know they can count on each other. This leads to performance and higher quality. This is of course not the only issue tackled in changing the culture of accountability seen as a positive term describing commitments that – in the eyes of others – have been kept.