The Central Remedial Clinic has rebuilt following the scandal over use of charitable funds to top up salaries for senior staff and has emerged as a "significantly better place", its chief executive has said.
Speaking as part of the Women in Leadership lecture series, hosted by The Irish Times in partnership with the DCU Leadership & Talent Institute, Stephanie Manahan said the controversy caused damage and affected confidence across the State's charity sector.
“It really broke what I call the psychological contract between not only the staff but the clients and the public and our supporters of the organisation,” Ms Manahan said.
“Walking into that job nearly three years ago, I knew I was walking into a very unknown space. The CRC had been hurled into a public scandal.”
Ms Manahan was appointed to her role in June 2014, some six months after news of the top-ups using charitable donations emerged.
She said she had a positive bias for the services delivered by the organisation when she entered it, but brought negative assumptions in with her as to what had happened at the CRC previously.
“We must teach people to recognise bias. It’s about enabling a culture to evolve that can challenge one another,” she said.
“I inherited an organisation that knew there was something amiss, but actually people weren’t enabled to question, to talk or to reach beyond their sphere of influence to question the authority above them.”
The keynote speaker at the discussion, Prof Denise Rousseau of the Carnegie Mellon University, said all human judgment is biased and that this affects people’s decisions.
“We see the world through the lenses of our experience,” said Prof Rousseau. “We see biases in other people which we cannot see in ourselves. But certain organisational practices can repair and reduce these decision biases.”
Prof Rousseau advised business leaders in the audience to generate more than one alternative when making decisions and to not always rely on the highest-paid person in the organisation when trying to understand a problem.
She added human beings dislike uncertainty in decision-making, underlining that women in particular do not like feeling uncertain.
“Women don’t like to stand up in an uncertain situation. Having the confidence that you can chose the right process makes it easier to stand up. The only way of reducing uncertainty is to act on it.”