Role of the Ombudsman

An organizational ombudsman is a designated neutral and mediator who "works with individuals and groups in an organization to explore and assist them in determining options to help resolve conflicts, problematic issues or concerns, and to bring systemic concerns to the attention of the organization" and "operates in a manner to preserve the confidentiality of contacts, maintains a neutral/impartial position with respect to the concerns raised, works at an informal level of the organizational system, and is independent of formal organizational structures." *

The IB Ombudsman is also accessible to external members of the IB community, such as schools, associations, administrators, coordinators, educators, parents and candidates, with applicable IB-related issues and concerns.

As an independent channel that listens, the Ombudsman provides a safe and confidential environment for stakeholders to bring and discuss concerns. The Ombudsman is a voluntary and off-the-record resource, and information on the Ombudsman may also be presented to stakeholders by another IB resource as a possible option.

The four main characteristics that enable an organizational ombudsman to serve his or her function include:

  • Independence
  • Confidentiality (only exception is the threat of imminent harm to self or others)
  • Impartiality
  • Informality

The Ombudsman also listens to the IB community for helpful feedback regarding the IB with a view towards organizational improvements. The Ombudsman channels such feedback to the appropriate IB leadership as appropriate.

*A more in-depth discussion on the role and function can be found at: The International Ombudsman Association

What the Ombudsman may and may not do:

  • Serve as off-the-record and confidential
  • Mediate / Facilitate communication
  • Help evaluate issues and resolution options
  • Act as informal and alternative channel
  • Exist as voluntary option for IB community
  • Remain independent of formal IB structures
  • Retain discretion to withdraw from a matter
  • Serve as impartial and multi-partial
  • Look at broad systemic issues, trends
  • Maintain identifying records
  • Serve as source of notice to IB of a problem
  • Participate in formal and/or adversarial processes
  • Conduct formal investigations
  • Mandate or change actions or policy
  • Replace existing processes set by policy
  • Provide legal advice
  • Serve as an advocate on behalf of a party
  • Disclose confidential communications