Safer to Report Harassment Under our New Policy
I am committed to creating an organization where our employees and the public are treated with the utmost respect and inclusion. One of the most impactful policies to ensure this is possible is the mayoral Administrative Procedure Memorandum (APM) 3-5 Prohibited Harassment and Discrimination Policy. This policy lays out our organization’s values and my expectations for how city staff are to treat each other and members of the public, and how the organization should respond to behaviors that are out of line with these values.
Two internal affinity and action committees made up of city staff members, the Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) and Women’s Initiatives Committee (WIC) surveyed our employees in 2019, and I heard worrying trends about harassment and discrimination in our organization that need to be addressed. For example, one out of four survey respondents (25 percent) had experienced workplace harassment, bullying or discrimination in the past year on the job. Also, less than half of survey respondents who experienced harassment reported it. The main reasons shared for not reporting were fear of social retaliation, being ostracized or shunned at work and not trusting the complaint process.
As a result, I worked with Department of Civil Rights staff Affirmative Action Specialist Tracy Lomax, Affirmative Action Manager Melissa Gombar, and Civil Rights Director Norman Davis to improve the policy. The Department of Civil Rights engaged with many stakeholders. Thank you to City Managers, unions and associations, the Racial Equity and Social Justice Strategy Team, and MAC and WIC for working hard to give the Department of Civil Rights valuable feedback to improve this policy.
On November 30, 2020 I signed the improved policy into effect. These policy improvements are key to achieving our vision of Our Madison – Inclusive, Innovative, and Thriving.
There new strategies in the policy to strengthen trust in the investigative and reporting processes and attempt to eliminate fears of retaliation. One of the key changes was a direct result of the recommendations from MAC and WIC after their survey: employees are now able to make anonymous complaints. In addition, we now have more leaders across the organization that are mandatory reporters – they must report violations of the policy if they become aware. The Department of Civil Rights now has more influence over the assignment of investigators to ensure quality investigations and consistent investigation practices. Also, Department Heads must seek guidance from their peers in the Department of Civil Rights, Human Resources, and the City Attorney’s office when issuing corrective action due to a policy violation.As a city, we are very proud of this policy creation and implementation. We know that a more inclusive workplace not only empowers staff to better serve the city of Madison, but also sets a precedent for inclusive practice across our city. For questions or more information, or to file a complaint, please contact the Department of Civil Rights at APM3-5Complaints@cityofmadison.com.