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Survey Reveals Unacceptable Rates of Workforce Harassment and Bullying in City Workforce

Two committees that focus on race and gender equality in the City are recommending change and action after
survey results raised concerns about harassment, bullying and discrimination in the work culture for City of
Madison employees.

“As a committee, which represents diverse backgrounds and experiences, we used the survey as an opportunity
to broaden the voices we were hearing from. We plan to use the findings to direct our efforts and elevate the
concerns we heard from employees of color, women and other marginalized genders,” City of Madison
Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) Chair Carla Garces-Redd said.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said survey results support the need for “immediate action and internal trainings”
to improve the workplace culture.

“These survey findings are disturbing and highlight unacceptable working conditions for too many City
employees,” Mayor Rhodes-Conway said. “I am committed to ensuring a safe and respectful workplace
environment for all employees.”

MAC and the Women’s Initiative Committee (WIC) emailed a survey to all City employees June 25, 2019. The
purpose of the survey was to take a snapshot of the current workplace climate and inform the work of the
committees and the City’s priorities. The survey asked questions relating to workplace culture centered on
concern of women and employees of color. Some paper surveys were distributed and collected from work sites
where employees had limited computer access. The City employs approximately 3,800 permanent and hourly
employees; 913 responded to the survey.

“This survey documents concerns that also regularly come up in our committee meetings. MAC and WIC look
forward to working collaboratively with the Mayor’s Office and other City leadership to address these issues,”
City of Madison WIC Chair Victoria Larson said.

Survey Findings

The survey results showed the following concerns relating to safe/respectful workplace conditions and
employee development:

  •  One out of four survey respondents (25 percent of 913 respondents) said they had experienced workplace harassment, bullying or discrimination in the past year on the job.
  •  Less than half of respondents who experienced harassment reported it. The main reasons for not reporting were fear of social retaliation, being ostracized or shunned at work and not trusting the complaint process.
  •  Most of the respondents said the harassment and bullying was instigated by peers (40 percent of incidents), supervisors (33 percent of incidents), and patrons/members of the public (18 percent of incidents). Multiple employees described a hostile work environment where patrons/members of the public harass and verbally abuse staff with impunity. Some employees said they had even been stalked or physically assaulted.
  •  Less than half of respondents had a clear understanding of how to move their career forward or had received mentoring to help them grow in their job. Fifty-seven percent of respondents believe employees have equal access to learning and development opportunities.
  •  Of survey respondents who participated in the City of Madison’s position study process, only about half (49 percent) had a clear understanding of the process and even fewer (44 percent) were satisfied with the outcome.

Survey Recommendations

MAC and WIC recommend the following actions to address the findings:

  •  Ensure a safe and respectful workplace environment for all employees
    • Review of policies, procedures and work rules.
    • Review and update training for supervisors and staff on prevention and response to workplace incidents.
    • Review rules of conduct and training for elected officials and committee members.
    • Develop a reporting process for employees who wish to maintain anonymity to share concerns.
    • Plan for continuous communication and outreach to ensure employees understand their rights,how to report incidents and who can offer them support.
  • Provide equitable access to professional development opportunities and mentoring.
    • Use data and metrics to identify risk areas, set targets and goals and measure the impact of initiatives.
    • Review and update training policies to include provisions and measures for equity and inclusion.
    • Support and expand targeted training programs such as Women’s Leadership Conference that are designed to eliminate barriers and underrepresentation of all levels of leadership.
  •  Assess and support pay equity within our organization, specifically as it relates to race and gender.
    • o Conduct regular citywide pay analyses.
    • o Address any gender and race/ethnicity gaps.
    • o Analyze the City’s position study process through an equity lens.

Specific recommended actions are listed in the full survey results.

Background about MAC and WIC

The Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) is composed of employees of the City of Madison and charged
with addressing issues of concern to racial and ethnic people of color employed by the City. MAC was
established in the City of Madison General Ordinance sec. 33.27(2).

The Women’s Initiatives Committee (WIC) is composed of employees of the City of Madison and is charged
with addressing issues of concern to women employed by the City. WIC was established in the City of Madison
General Ordinance sec. 33.27(2).

Harassment and bullying may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling,
physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or
pictures, and interference with work performance.

Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to, unwanted sexual attention, advances or coercion and
other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, such as on the
grounds of race, age, gender, or ability/disability.