LADWP recognized that having and maintaining a diverse workforce, employee dynamics and challenges were a reality. One key challenge that surfaced throughout the years was "real" and "perceived" beliefs of unfair treatment by employees. LADWP, like other organizations faced allegations of workplace harassment, and other forms of inappropriate workplace behavior. In 2002, the EEOS had approximately 221 active internal EEO cases that were mostly related to workplace harassment based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and disability with a backlog status dating back to 1996. In addition, a new filing rate of approximately eight (8) cases per month contributed to analyst case assignment strain. The workplace harassment allegations were largely egregious and included most of the protected class violations of State and Federal EEO law. At that time, LADWP was also investigating cases using the standards set forth by State and Federal EEO law, which presented a problem in substantiation of allegations of inappropriate behavior, as analysts were unable to identify certain behaviors as being "severe or pervasive."
This trend caused a real concern by LADWP's leadership including the General Manager and the Board of Commissioners. Our management team realized that something needed to be done to eliminate the number of workplace harassment allegations and internal cases that existed, and manage the workplace climate in a way that would mitigate future employee allegations, while simultaneously increasing tolerance and mutual respect for co-workers.
A key organizational value is fair treatment, and two major components of treating employees fairly are establishing and maintaining respect of the individual, and ensuring a workplace free of all forms of workplace harassment. Using these two values as a foundation, management agreed that additional action was necessary to demonstrate our commitment to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity, valuing and accepting differences among our workforce, customer base, and community/professional partners, and ensuring a quality workplace free of harassment for all employees.
In 2002, to effect such change, management established a proactive strategy that safeguarded the personal dignity of our employees, and empowered them to contribute to a workplace free of harassment and discrimination. In that year, LADWP:
I was hired to drive organizational change in the way LADWP managed EEO matters. Through my direction, my team is also responsible for elevating employees' awareness and understanding of workplace harassment and its organizational impact and effect on employees. We understood the need to strengthen our policies and procedures, as well as, those day-to-day practices to identify the various forms of workplace harassment to respond to allegations. Furthermore, LADWP wanted to operate from a proactive position rather than being constantly in a reactionary mode.
We recognized that LADWP never trained our entire workforce of 9,500+ employees in workplace harassment and other forms of discrimination. We also determined that our EEO policies and procedures, at the time, were not designed to reinforce organizational values and modify employee workplace behavior. Consequently, LADWP established an EEO strategy that allowed us to:
We discovered that our employees did not fully understand the nature of workplace harassment, nor other forms of discrimination. They were guided more by their personal feelings and misguided beliefs about partiality and how things had been in the past. We also realized that our work environment and the nature of work (mostly technical and blue collar) performed by employees promoted the assumption that women did not belong in occupations that were traditionally held by men, or that women could not perform as effectively in said positions. This perception led to workplace harassment towards women, and in some cases towards men, through inappropriate jokes, language, hostile treatment, and bullying.
We used training to educate our workforce about harassment and other discrimination dynamics; training was tailored to our specific needs which were to:
The following is the Department's training efforts made over the past 13 years:
In October 2007, the LADWP Workplace Equal Employment Opportunity Anti-Discrimination and "Zero Tolerance" Policy was issued to all employees. It stated that discrimination, harassment, retaliation and hazing are prohibited and will not be tolerated, that prompt action would be taken, and that appropriate disciplinary action would be issued. This policy was developed to stop the behavior at the lowest possible level before it reached the higher, more severe levels of State and Federal violation. Therefore, with the Zero Tolerance Policy, even a single infraction could lead to disciplinary action, thereby correcting inappropriate behavior. Today, it is the foundational policy which EEOS uses when investigating allegations of workplace harassment and other forms of inappropriate workplace behavior.
This training focuses on:
LADWP measured the results of its training efforts by using the Kirkpatrick Evaluation process. We wanted to make sure employees valued the training and its content. Employees reacted very favorably to all training through Kirkpatrick's Level 1 Assessment instrument. We also wanted to make sure employees learned about workplace harassment and other forms of discrimination, valuing individual differences and how all employees are accountable for ensuring a dignified workplace. Through Kirkpatrick's Level 2 assessment we found that employees learned about LADWP's Zero Tolerance Policy and how to register complaints of workplace harassment and discrimination. The employees expressed a better appreciation of the efforts that LADWP took to make the work environment a better place. Kirkpatrick Level 3 provided LADWP with a better understanding on how the behavior changed in the workplace.
LADWP has employed approximately fifty (50) administrative personnel who serve as Division EEO/ADA Coordinators as one of their responsibilities. These employees are trained by EEOS as "first strike" staff who may be notified first about any problems in the workplace, and who may parse and internally investigate those workplace conflict issues from those that may be EEO-related.
Working with EEO/ADA Division Coordinators, EEOS is able to use best practices when engaged in employee complaints. As a standard EEOS will:
Our methods have proven to be quite successful. Today, our employees are better informed about workplace harassment. They understand how our Zero Tolerance Policy works and employees know where to go (EEOS) with their concerns and complaints. Employees are becoming more accountable for their workplace behavior and realize there are consequences for inappropriate actions.
At our highest point of internal complaint filings in 2006, we have systematically enjoyed a decrease in case initiations of 70% by our current year, and much of this is due to our tenacious and steadfast commitment to our training efforts. In addition, the types of workplace harassment cases we received have decreased in severity throughout the years. LADWP will continue to seek new ways to maintain a workplace free of workplace harassment and other forms of discrimination. We will also continue to work with the EEOC and local agencies when cases reach your level.
I want to thank you for this opportunity to discuss LADWP's EEO philosophy and workplace strategies.