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Meeting of October 31, 2018 - Revamping Workplace Culture to Prevent Harassment - Transcript

Meeting of October 31, 2018 - Revamping Workplace Culture to Prevent Harassment

PRESENT:

VICTORIA A. LIPNIC Acting Chair
CHAI R. FELDBLUM   Commissioner
CHARLOTTE A. BURROWS Commissioner

ALSO PRESENT:

JAMES LEE Deputy General Counsel
CAROL MIASKOFF Associate Legal Counsel
BERNADETTE B. WILSON Executive Officer

This transcript was produced from a DVD provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

CONTENTS

 

AGENDA ITEM 

  1. Announcement of Notation Votes
  2. Revamping Workplace Culture To Prevent Harassment
    Alejandra Valles
    David G. Bowman
    Anne Wallestad
    Christine Porath
    Rob Buelow
    Mary C. Gentile
  1. Motion To Adjourn

 

PROCEEDINGS

9:30 a.m.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  The meeting will come to order. Good morning everyone. Thank you all so much for being with us. In accordance with the Sunshine Act, today's meeting is open to public observation of the Commission's deliberations and voting.  As we assemble here today, though, I am reminded that the funerals in Pittsburgh are continuing for the victims of last weekend's shooting at the synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.  Of course, the work of this agency and our mission guided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is to prevent and remedy discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin and religion.

Before we begin our meeting today, I have asked Commissioner Feldblum if she would lead us in a moment of remembrance and respect for the families and victims of the Pittsburgh community.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM:  Thank you.  I'm just going to say the last line of the Mourner's Kaddish, which is being said over and over again today --

(Foreign language spoken.)

He who gives peace in our midst shall give peace on all of us, and let us say amen.

ALL:  Amen.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you.  At this time I'm going to ask Bernadette Wilson to announce any notation votes that have taken place since the last commission meeting.  Ms. Wilson?

WILSON: Good morning. And before I begin, is there anyone in need of sign language interpreter services?

Okay, thank you.  Good morning again, Madam Chair, Commissioners, Deputy General Counsel, Associate Legal Counsel.  I'm Bernadette Wilson from the Executive Secretariat.  We'd like to remind our audience that questions and comments from the audience are not permitted during the meeting and we ask that you carry on any conversations outside the meeting room, departing and re-entering as quietly as possible.  Also, please take this opportunity to turn your cell phones off, or to vibrate mode.  I would also like to remind the audience that in case of emergency, there are exit doors to the right and left as you exit this room.  Additionally, the restrooms are down the hall to the right and left of the elevators.

During the period June 10th, 2017, through October 30th, 2018, the Commission approved eighty-three (83) items by notation vote:

Approved Litigation in thirty-one (31) cases;

Approved Amicus participation in one (1) case;

Approved two (2) draft enforcement guidances:  Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace; and Selected Topics in Age Discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA);

Approved four (4) rules -- an NPRM and an Interim Final Rule, both titled, "Enforcement of Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in EEOC Programs/Activities and Accessibility of Electronic and Information Technology"; a Final Rule on Availability of Records; and the 2018 Adjustment of the Penalty for Violation of Notice Posting Requirements;

Approved the Fall 2017 and Fall 2018 Regulatory Agendas and Plans and the Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda;

Approved a Department of the Interior Pilot Proposal, and a Revised Federal Aviation Administration Pilot Proposal;

Approved the following twenty-three (23) contracts: OIT Acquisitions for 4th Quarter 2017, Mid-Year 2018, and 4th Quarter 2018; an eDiscovery Review Management System; a Compiled Federal Legislative History Database; an EEO-1 Management System for the EEO-1 Survey; WestlawNext and Lexis Advance; Renewals for Bloomberg BNA and HeinOnline; Modernizing EEOC Surveys and Analytics; Cloud-Based E-mail Management System; Obligation and Additional Funds for Installation of IP Security Cameras; Headquarters Facilities and Support Services; Lease, Hosting, and Maintenance of a Nationwide Mail Management Systems; SBA8(a) Program for the Purchase and Installation of Agency-wide Security Upgrades: Enterprise Physical Access Control; Competitive Firm-Fixed Price Task Order; Headquarters Health Unit Services; FY 2018 Human Resources Staffing Specialists; Extension of Industrial and Organizational Psychologist; Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER); the FY 2018 State and Local Budget Allocations; and the 2019-2021 EXCEL Conferences;

Approved the EEOC Strategic Plan for 2018-2022;

Approved a Commissioner Charge Withdrawal;

Approved a Closed Meeting Request for Discussions Regarding Federal Agency Discrimination Complaint Appeals; and

Approved Resolutions for Michael "Mick" Connolly; LaEunice Chapman; Spencer H. Lewis Jr.; Thomas J. Schlageter; Edward G. Hill; Dr. Patrick Ronald Edwards; Wilma Jones Scott; Judy Furukawa; Lorraine Davis; Katherine W. Kores; Cynthia G. Pierre; Rose Adawale-Mendes; and Germaine Roseboro on their retirement.

Also, approved one hundred and seven (107) items through the Notice and Hold Procedure: Thirty-nine (39) Amicus briefs; Forty-nine (49) Subpoena Determinations; and Nineteen (19) Federal Sector Appellate Decisions.

Madam Chair?

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you, Ms. Wilson.  As you can tell, we have not been doing much of anything for the last 16 months, and that is only part of what we do.  Anyway, thank you to those, all of you who have joined us for today's meeting on Revamping Workplace Culture to Prevent Harassment.  And we will begin with statements by all of the members before we turn to our witnesses.

One year ago this month, high-profile revelations of sexual harassment and the rise of the hashtag #MeToo and similar movements fueled a cultural awakening throughout our nation.  For the EEOC, the revelations were no surprise. For decades, the EEOC has investigated and litigated thousands of complaints of harassment of all kinds for all types of workers and in all kinds of workplaces.  As the nation awoke to the persistent problem of workplace harassment, the EEOC was already leading the effort to develop and share solutions to prevent and stop harassment and harassing conduct in the workplace.  The EEOC's focused effort began three years ago with the launch of the Select Task Force on the study of harassment in the workplace to identify the breadth and depth of the problem.

And can I ask, I just want to recognize any members who served on our Select Task Force who are in the audience.  I know Rae Vann from the Center for Workplace Compliance is here, so, thank you Rae for being with us.

After 18 months of extensive study, Commissioner Feldblum and I released our Co-Chairs' Report in June 2016 detailing the research on harassment, the risk factors, the need for training to change, and potential solutions to changing workplace cultures from tolerating harassment to promoting civility and respect.  We reconvened the Select Task Force this past June to hear from experts about challenging legal issues, legislative initiatives and innovative responses such as reporting apps, panic buttons, color-coded reporting systems.  I, again, thank all of our Select Task Force members for being so generous with their time and for joining us in our June meeting earlier this year.

As part of the EEOC's sustained and comprehensive effort to prevent harassment, we ramped up the EEOC's role as enforcer, educator and leader and I would like to note a few of the highlights of this past fiscal year. Hits on the sexual harassment page of the EEOC's website more than doubled this past year as many individuals and employers sought information from the EEOC.  Based on final data I can now report that charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment this past fiscal year increased by 13.6 percent from Fiscal Year 2017.  Our web pages on harassment charges have been updated and include new FY18/2018 data.  Over the past year, we've heard from human resource professionals and also from lawyers who represent workers and employers that they have seen a significant increase in individuals coming forward internally to their own organizations with harassment complaints.  They have also said that many more complaints were resolved internally and early which means fewer of those complaints came and turned into EEOC charges.

Since October 2017, the EEOC's Respectful Workplace's Training program has reached more than 9,800 employees and supervisors teaching them skills that promote and contribute to respect in the workplace, including how to step in when problematic behavior happens to others.  The EEOC filed 66 lawsuits challenging workplace harassment, 41 of which alleged sexual harassment. This is more than a 50 percent increase in suits challenging sexual harassment over Fiscal Year 2017.  Twice this year we had coordinated litigation filings where on two separate occasions our General Counsel's office filed multiple cases covering a variety of industries around the country.  Our effort to solve this problem must be a sustained and comprehensive one to overcome the persistent and pervasive nature of workplace harassment.  Our work continues, but as Commissioner Feldblum and I wrote in our preface to the Select Task Force Report, we are only one player and one piece of the solution; everyone has a stake in this effort because harassment in our workplaces affects all of us.  Behind the high-profile headlines are thousands of women and men, janitors, truck drivers, servers, tech workers in all kinds of workplaces of all sizes throughout the country who have confronted harassment based on sex, race, color, age, disability, national origin and religion.  That is why I'm so pleased we will be hearing today from others who are committed to solutions that seek to revamp workplace culture and to prevent harassment for all workers.  Our purpose today is two-fold; first, we emphasize the importance of leadership and accountability; we have seen too many examples over the past year of significant gaps in both areas. I hope to hear about how leadership and accountability must be exercised and driven throughout an organization from the line employees, to the supervisors, to the CEO, to the board. 

Second, the Co-Chairs' Report identified ineffective training as one obstacle to harassment prevention.  So today we will hear about alternatives to traditional training methods and how different types of training programs and different approaches to training are being tested -- and I say "tested" in a range of workplaces.  My sincere thanks to our witnesses, all of you for sharing your insights with us as we examine these complex issues.

With that, I would like to invite Commissioner Feldblum to offer an opening statement.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM:  Thank you Madam Chair.  Welcome to our witnesses and to everyone at this Commission meeting.  We stand at a watershed moment with regard to harassment; we can see it, we can hear it, we can feel it.  The question is whether we can, and whether we will, leverage this moment into significant and sustainable change.  I believe we can; we have a roadmap from the report that Chair Lipnic referenced, and it is a roadmap for a holistic harassment prevention effort. There are three main components to this roadmap. Now I know based on the written testimony of the witnesses here today that you are seven of the best people to explicate those components, both from your personal experiences and your research experiences.  So the first component is workplace culture; the bottom line is that a workplace's culture has to be one that does not tolerate harassment. And leaders of an organization, including Boards of Directors can shape workplace culture.  It requires three things: the leaders have to actually believe that harassment is wrong and they don't want it in their workplaces; they have to articulate that belief and the expectations that flow from that belief; and, they must act in a manner that makes their employees believe that they are authentic; which leads to the second component, accountability. Those who act contrary to the expectations of the workplace must be held accountable in a fair and proportionate manner. That includes holding accountable those who engage in harassment, regardless of how high-ranking that person is; it requires holding accountable those who fail to respond appropriately to reports of harassment; and it means holding accountable anyone who retaliates against someone who has reported or corroborated harassment or has intervened to stop harassment.  And the third component is policies, procedures and training. If a workplace has leadership and accountability, then, policies, procedures and training round out that comprehensive harassment prevention effort.  And I'm glad we're going to be hearing about those components.

Employers can create workplace cultures that do not tolerate harassment, employees can support workplace cultures that call out people who engage in harassment and hold them accountable. We have the tools to reduce harassment significantly.  Will we do this, will we use those tools?  Well the EEOC will certainly do its part to help achieve that outcome.  Indeed, holding a commission meeting of this kind in which we highlight creative and effective measures that employees and employers are using right now is part of that effort, but as Chair Lipnic said, as we said in our report, we need the range of social actors to come together and each of those actors to play their part.

So I look forward to hearing our witnesses today as they educate both us and the public about creative and effective means to stop harassment in our workplaces.  Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you Commissioner Feldblum.

Commissioner Burrows?

COMMISSIONER BURROWS:  Good morning.  I'm so grateful to all of you for the time you've taken to be here and for the excellent testimony that you've provided.  I have to first recognize that today is the 40th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act; couldn't help but do that today.  And really want to join my colleagues in welcoming all of you here to the EEOC.  Although the #MeToo movement has existed for over a decade, it's just about a year since its hashtag went viral and sparked a very long overdue conversation on sexual harassment in the workplace.  The challenge now is to find concrete solutions so that American workplaces reflect our values of equality, justice and respect for human dignity; that means addressing the broad problem of harassment in all of its forms.  Obviously, sexual harassment has grabbed the headlines, and deservedly so, but we also have to keep our eye on the ball with respect to harassment based on race, national origin, color, disability, age, genetic information even -- yes, we have had a genetic information harassment case at the EEOC -- as well as sex.  We must use this moment to find ways to change the culture so we stop harassment before it starts.  The conversation must address the urgent problems of abusive sexual misconduct in so many workplaces, so I'm eager to hear solutions.  It must address the experience of the many persons of color who face extreme forms of harassment, like Henry Blue, an African American foreman who was repeatedly called of course the "N" word, as well as "monkey," and "boy," and whose employer not only refused to end the harassment, but fired him for complaining and promoted the harasser.  It must address religious discrimination and harassment against individuals like Scott Jacobsen whose co-worker subjected him to years of anti-Semitic slurs, put a swastika on his work vehicle and threw him in a trash bin for the amusement of managers who watched on a surveillance camera calling it, and this is a quote, "Throw the Jew in a dumpster."  The conversation must be broad enough to include women in mostly male industries who face physical attacks as well as sexual misconduct like the two tradeswomen, Crystal Cole and Fatima Johnson, whose co-workers assaulted them with roofing tiles for rejecting their sexual advances.

Fortunately, and I'm pleased EEOC was able to obtain relief for each of these men and women, but this should have never happened in the first place.  I hope that today's meeting will help us find ways to prevent harassment, and those ways need to recognize the breadth of the harassment problem, which is really a problem of abusive power and impacts virtually every area and industry in our nation.  To find solutions is important to focus on this common thread of abusive power, while also recognizing that solutions will need to be tailored to particular circumstances in industries and workplace cultures.  Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, a national farmworker women's organization provided an insightful example of how to focus on this common thread, the month after the Weinstein allegations became public, by sending a letter of solidarity to harassment survivors in the entertainment industry. They wrote, "We worked in isolated fields in packing houses that are out of sight and out of mind for most people in this country.  Even though we work in very different environments we share a common experience of being preyed upon by individuals who have the power to hire, fire and blacklist and otherwise threaten our economic, physical and emotional security.  We must examine that common experience in all its forms and ensure that our solutions are tailored to address them; that likely will mean something other than a one-size-fits-all approach and your testimony has given us plenty of good ideas.

I look forward to today's hearing and to the action that I know will follow.  Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you, Commissioner Burrows.  It's now my pleasure to introduce our panelists for today's meeting; Alejandra Valles is the Secretary-Treasurer and Chief of Staff of SEIU United Service Workers West (USWW).  Welcome.

Veronica Giron is one of the leaders of the Ya Basta campaign who helped design and train other janitors to prevent sexual violence and harassment in the janitorial industry.  Ms. Giron, Buenos dias.

David Bowman is a partner with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

Anne Wallestad is the president and CEO of BoardSource.

Christine Porath is an Associate Professor at the Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.

Rob Buelow is the Vice President of EVERFI.

And Mary Gentile from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business is the creator and director of Giving Voices To Values.

Thank you, all so much for being with us today.

Today's meeting will consist of one panel and then we will open the floor for questions and comments from the members of the Commission.  Panelists, you will each have six minutes to make your oral presentations today.  Your complete written statements will be available on our website, www.eeoc.gov, and then placed in the meeting record.  Please note that we are using the timing lights at the center of the console in front of me -- we have timing lights too I should tell you -- the yellow light will appear when you have one minute remaining for your statement and the red light will appear when your allotted time expires.  We will take a short break after all panelists have spoken and then resume for two rounds of commissioners' questions and comments.

Again, we are very pleased to have such an exceptional panel with us today.  We thank you for being here.  And with that, we will begin with Ms. Valles and Ms. Giron.

VALLES: Good morning and thank you for having me and Happy Halloween. I think this is the first time I've testified on Halloween. You're not so scary. So, my name is Alejandra Valles and I'm the Secretary-Treasurer and Chief of Staff of SEIU USWW, a union that represents subcontracted workers in security airports and the janitorial industry across California.  We represent over 25,000 janitors.  And for the last three years women janitors have been breaking their silence to say "Ya Basta!," "Enough is enough" to rape on the night shift.  They are particularly vulnerable because of immigration status, economic status, many of them do not speak English, and mostly because of the supervisory structure in the janitorial industry in the contracting outworld.  You have the foremen, you have the man who gives you the keys and gives them to you in the morning, or in the night shift and then takes them away at the end of the night.  You also have the leads, and even the contractors.  And I say they are all men, not mostly men, they are all men.  And 80 percent of the janitors that we represent are women. There are also cultural and educational barriers; many of the women that we were working with did not know the difference between harassment, assault, rape and stalking.  One woman in particular that I worked with had been assaulted with her own broom stick, and she didn't realize that that was illegal, because in her mind, that had not been traditional intercourse.

In 2015 the Frontline documentary, "Rape on the Night Shift" came out and it highlighted a widespread problem in the janitorial industry; and in our union we were not getting all of these reports from janitors, so we said, "What's happening?"  "Why are we not getting these reports?"  "Why are we not dealing with these cases?"  And we got the best piece of advice from Futures Without Violence and also from CALCASA the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault that said look within, look at the women survivors, they have the answers, they know what the culture is like and they will help you figure it out.  So that's exactly what we did; we met with our Executive Board rank and file members and we said let's screen the documentary up and down the state and let's just have conversations.  And from that, many women started talking about their experience from the #MeToo headlines.  From there we said if you want more information, come to a follow-up meeting; and that follow-up meeting became the first of many cohorts that we had statewide of women that we called the "promotoras" and men circles that we called the "compadres."  And in those cohorts there were deep trained on gender-based violence in society at large that were six days, 48 hours long. And so we said, "Wow, wouldn't it be great if we had that kind of training for the janitorial industry in the workplace alone?"  And so we looked and we met with all of the janitors and we studied different models, and all we could find was a lot of different PowerPoints and academic trainings that were cookie cutters, that you could take to a lot of different workplaces and say this is what the law says, do this, don't do that, et cetera. And we thought well, that's not what we want and that's not what the janitors needed.

So, what we did is we made a plan with simple but powerful concepts; one, change the culture from the bottom up, and by altering human behavior on the spot; how do we empower our members to actually step in while it's happening so that it doesn't move from harassment to assault and to rape; prevention as a goal, liability and compliance as a tactic, both and, not either/or; three, work to create mandates for in-person, in-person sexual violence training for the janitorial industry through policy but also through our own union contracts.  It sounds basic but it is powerful to have in-person interactive training; build a "Ya Basta!" coalition with organizations who actually value survivor-centered solutions and worker-centered solutions; five, create a curriculum assigned and delivered by janitors where they are the architects, in their language, in their style and with their expertise; and six, build trust, so live our own values as a union.  So SEIU USWW since has partnered with the largest employers, janitorial employers in the country and we want in the contract language a once a year in-person training, and training for the employees within the first 60 days of hire that will include a joint peer-to-peer component of the training.  We also want a policy, legislation statewide that also has an in-person requirement for every employer who does business in the janitorial industry in California.

And with that, I would like to hand it over to Veronica who is going to talk about the actual training that the janitors themselves designed.  Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Ms. Giron?

GIRON: Hi, Buenos dias. (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): Hi, my name is Veronica Giron; I'm a janitor for 14 years. I'm also a mother, a survivor and a TPS recipient.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): Me and my co-workers decided that we wanted to focus on more than just the problem; we decided that we wanted to save ourselves, that we didn't need saving, and so we started talking to one another and actually had a cohort of women and men that talked about what the problem was and what we didn't know about the law.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): So what we decided to do was have these deep cohorts with men and women, the "promotoras" and "compadres" and we got together and we said how are we actually going to stop this when it's happening? So we started practicing, we started screaming at the top of our lungs, "No, that's unsolicited and unwanted," and just practicing the rubberband reflex with each other so that when it actually happens we don't turn around and look away or start whispering to one another and never do anything about it.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): So we got together and we also said we need to design a training, and so we looked and studied a bunch of different trainings and we couldn't find one. And so we said let's write one ourselves, so we actually started writing a script like in a movie, and with our professional organizations who guided us, and we wrote it out ourselves and we highlighted three different scenarios of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace that were very real to us. And then we also, when we had the script, we then put it out and we casted auditions and real janitors who would come in and act in the interactive videos so that they themselves could be the voices that captured the industry.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): So in those training videos, it actually captures the culture of our industry; you can smell it, you can feel it, you can be there with it. And so we also act out the right way to intervene, including going to HR and filing a report or going to other channels or community organizations with one of your coworkers to report what's happening. We also, then, decided that we wanted feedback from janitors who had not been involved in the design of the curriculum; and when we took it to the janitors they said, "This is great. This captures it, but what about impact stories?  We feel that the offenders need to know what the impact of their actions are."  And so we went back and we incorporated impact stories.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): So, we captured two very powerful impact stories, one of the women who had been assaulted and who started picking her hair and taking out her hair and what that had done because of all the anxiety she was experiencing. The other impact story was one of my coworkers whose incredibly religious who had been raped and how hard the depression hit her because in her mind she was now a raped woman.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): We are now in the process of training the trainers or training the janitors so that they can actually go in and provide the training that we want in the contract with the janitorial employers, but we are also designing a supervisors curriculum and weighing in on that and how we would like supervisors to respond when they get these reports. The other thing that we're doing is we are continuing to meet as janitors to figure out how to expand this work, but it hasn't been easy because every time that we go and try to get funding or try to get help, most people are like, "Well, we don't have time for all of that. Let's just do the simple law and let people know what their rights are."  So we're constantly up against other academics, other models that don't necessarily deal with culture change.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): I, with a lot of pride now tell you that I am now a certified mental health community trainer; I'm also a certified self-defense teacher.

VALLES: She didn't say this but she's also a certified HIV prevention specialist. And she's a janitor, and she's a "Promotora" continuing to say, "Ya basta!" to try to end rape on the night shift.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you both, very much.  Mr. Bowman?

BOWMAN: Okay, good morning. And thank you to the Commission for inviting me here today.  My name is David Bowman and I'm a labor and employment partner with the law firm of Morgan Lewis where my practice largely consists of diversity consulting, independent investigations and workplace training programs.  I'm here today to address the importance of cultural assessments, leadership and accountability as key tools in compounding workplace harassment and discrimination.  Cultural assessments allow employers to proactively identify potential risks at an early stage and develop concrete solutions that promote an inclusive, harassment-free work environment.  For example, cultural assessments can reveal whether employees feel safe reporting harassment without retaliation or have confidence in the organization's ability to address issues when they arise.  Cultural assessments also help employers identify high-risk teams or high-risk behavioral trends such as excessive alcohol consumption, off premises conduct, bullying or incivility, or microaggressions.  Assessments may also be used in response to a prior incident or allegation but should never serve as a substitute for an investigation.  When initiating a cultural assessment we first identify the organization's key goals for the assessment.  We then in most cases review policies and practices, develop a set of interview and focus group questions focusing on those identified goals.  To ensure the participants feel comfortable being candid, all data is kept strictly confidential.  Also, in order to be able to attribute these findings to discreet parts of the organization; focus groups should generally include individuals within the same similar business unit, tenure, role, gender or other relevant metrics to the organization.

Analysis of the data gathered during the interviews and focus groups yields key themes regarding the culture. Based on these themes, the assessments conclude with recommendations designed to remediate organizational problems and shed light on best practices.  Cultural assessments conducted since the #MeToo movement began produced many themes, including some of the following: many employees do not know still to this day all of the complaint channels that are available to them; bystanders often fail to understand their power to positively impact the culture and what they can do to effect change. Employees often don't report issues to HR because they feel it is a waste of time; retaliation is not always the primary concern.

Men are worried that companies are "pulling the trigger too quickly," while women fear potential unintended consequences of the #MeToo movement; for example, senior male leaders not engaging, mentoring, coaching them, or engaging in activities that build positive relationships for their careers.  Exclusion from social work activities, whether intentional or not, can stunt a career advancement of diverse employees.  And finally, employees are sometimes tracked into certain jobs simply because the applicant's gender or race.  In addition to cultural assessments, it is important that managers and leaders actively support the creation and maintenance of safe and respectful work environments. In doing so, they must focus on the business imperative and their corporate values, not just compliance with legal or regulatory frameworks.  In order to set the tone, as we say, for positive organizational culture, effective leaders often adopt some of the following strategies; first, they proactively and routinely emphasize the importance of diversity and safe and respectful work environments. They do this often through town hall meetings, emails and other announcements, social gatherings, et cetera.  The messaging should be repetitive in nature and woven into the regular course of business.  We encourage our clients not to just have the diversity speech when it's convenient or appropriate or in the wake of a particular situation.  Leaders should also be visible and accessible in the workplace on a regular basis.  They should lead with inclusive, individual behaviors and social activities; more specifically their social activities should be inclusive in nature and they should avoid those types of activities that tend to ostracize certain groups and inhibit their ability to connect with the organization.  They should strategically and very transparently coach, mentor and sponsor diverse talent.  They should maintain an open door to concerns and complaints and they should recognize and reward employees and other leaders who demonstrate their commitment to workplace culture. They should support and engage in diversity initiatives such as employee resource groups or what we've also called affinity groups, training, work/life balance initiatives and so on.  And finally, and importantly, they should refrain from interfering with investigations conducted by HR or their designees.  They need to have the courage to trust the process and allow the process to go through promptly and fairly and effectively.

Let me conclude by talking about accountability; there is much described in the 2016 report that the EEOC put out around accountability, and we know that accountability is critical. But we also know that accountability is not just about employer's willingness to investigate and discipline those who violate harassment prevention policies.  It also depends on whether the organization is aware of the inappropriate behavior that has occurred; although, policies, training incentives and other resources do help eliminate inappropriate behaviors of many wrongdoers, it doesn't work for everyone.  For those individuals, employers must create inhospitable work environments where the consequences are severe and the likelihood of getting caught is high.  Leadership teams, human resource teams, legal departments and even the EEOC cannot accomplish this alone.  Despite the severity of the punishment, some wrongdoers focus more on the risk of getting caught than on the consequences if they do.  This reality requires the engagement of victims and bystanders; by empowering victims and bystanders to stand up, the standards of behavior are set by everyone, not just by a few.

Thank you for your time this morning.  I look forward to hearing from the other speakers and for your questions.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you very much, Mr. Bowman.  Ms. Wallestad?

WALLESTAD: Thank you. Good morning, distinguished members of this Commission. My name is Anne Wallestad and I am president and CEO of BoardSource, a globally recognized organization focused on strengthening non-profit leadership at the highest level of the Board of Directors.  The board plays an essential but unique role in addressing workplace harassment; as leadership bodies that are focused on organizational strategy and fiduciary oversight; they are not involved in the day-to-day leadership and management of an organization; therefore, the board's role in preventing and addressing harassment is somewhat removed from those day-to-day realities and focuses primarily on organization-wide policy setting and chief executive oversight.  Unfortunately, not all non-profit boards are embracing this responsibility.  Within the past year there have been reports of organizations where the board's action or inaction in the face of serious issues of harassment has been extremely problematic.  With that in mind, I would offer the following in terms of general guidance about what the board must do to fulfill its essential responsibilities; first and foremost, every organization should have a formalized whistleblower policy that enables staff to report issues of abuse or wrongdoing at any time. This should include a direct reporting line into the Board of Directors so that reports related to the CEO's own leadership cannot be suppressed by the CEO.  It should also include a protocol that alerts the board of any reports made at the staff level and how they are being addressed.  The board should also ensure that they are comfortable with the organization's policies and practices related to hiring and references, reporting, investigation, consequences and communications and accountability should an incident of harassment occur.  The board is also responsible for chief executive oversight which plays an essential role in preventing and addressing workplace harassment. The board is responsible for ensuring that the CEO is providing strong leadership to the organization and its staff, as well as ensuring that the CEO's power doesn't go unchecked if there are issues of abuse or mistreatment.

In fact, in the case of a CEO who is condoning or is at the center of an organization's harm of its employees, board level action may in fact be the only recourse.  That said, boards do not typically see the chief executive's leadership and work on a daily basis, which can make it difficult for them to have the full picture on how a CEO or an executive director is actually leading.  And it can be very easy for boards to have a false sense of security about the chief executive's leadership based on what they see in the context of board meetings or other direct engagement between the chief executive and the board.  To effectively leverage CEO oversight as a mechanism for preventing and addressing workplace harassment, boards must work to get a more well-rounded view of the chief executive's performance while simultaneously respecting the distinct roles of the board and the CEO.  Beyond the whistleblower policy, the best and primary way to do this is through a thoughtful annual evaluation process that incorporates direct feedback from staff.  More specifically, boards should construct an evaluation process that includes at least some of the following inputs: direct 360 feedback from the CEO's direct reports, staff surveys that illuminate cultural issues within the organization, staff retention metrics, and publicly available commentary and feedback.

Boards that fail to invite team feedback as a part of these annual reviews, including the 40 percent of non-profit boards that do not do annual CEO evaluations at all, are missing an important opportunity to better understand the CEO's leadership which may in fact be putting their organizations and their employees at risk.

Finally, the board must be willing to contemplate how they themselves might be contributing to a culture that enables harassment whether directly or indirectly.  A recent inside philanthropy article highlighted that when it comes to sexual harassment, board members themselves are sometimes the problem, propositioning or otherwise harassing non-profit employees.  Boards should ensure that there's a mechanism for reporting and addressing harassment by a board member and that there are protections in place to ensure a chief executive and other staff members that they won't face retaliation if they report a board member's bad behavior.  Another area for board reflection is around performance metrics, in ensuring that they are not creating perverse incentives to ignore or silence allegations of harassment.  According to the same article, one reason charities look the other way when wealthy donors and trustees harass fundraising staff is doubtless the money and influence such people wield critical support that organizations stand to lose in correcting problematic behavior.  No employee should be asked to tolerate harmful or inappropriate situations for the good of the organizations, and boards should make sure that they are not incentivizing dysfunction by emphasizing metrics such as fundraising performance or staff retention in such a way that disregards a healthy organizational environment for employees.

Finally, the board's own composition may work against its ability to prevent, detect and address harassment.  Boards are wise to consider how their own composition may create blind spots or vulnerabilities as it relates to addressing harassment and assault.  For example, a female victim may be less likely to report a male chief executive's harassment to an all-male board, or the board may have definitions of what is or what isn't sexual misconduct that are out of step with current social mores and expectations.  There is no question that it's an abdication of responsibility for a board to ignore allegations or instances of harassment or assault, particularly when the perpetrator is the chief executive.  But it is not enough for boards to passively commit the organization to addressing allegations when they arise; boards need to proactively examine how their organization's own culture may be contributing to an environment where harassment and abuse goes unchecked.  And if they don't like what they see, they have a responsibility to do something about it.  Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you, Ms. Wallestad.  Ms. Porath?

PORATH: Good morning. My name is Christine Porath; I have studied civility and organizational culture for over 20 years --

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  May I ask you to pull the microphone a little bit closer to you?

PORATH: What is incivility? It's disrespect or rudeness, it shows a low regard for others violating norms of mutual respect and social interactions.  Incivility is all in the eyes of the beholder; it varies not just by individual but also by culture, gender, generation and organization.  Civility in the fullest sense requires something more -- positive gestures of respect, dignity, courtesy or kindness. In workplaces where incivility is present, harassment is more likely.  Incivility creates a culture of disrespect in which harassing behaviors may seem more permissible and more likely to be tolerated. In studies of attorneys and court employees, researchers found significant correlations between incivility and sexual harassment.  Researches have also found that uncivil behaviors can escalate into harassing behaviors.  By promoting civility and respect, organizations may significantly reduce harassment; one way to do this is through civility training which tends to focus on the positive, what employees and managers should do to build a workplace where people feel respected and valued, rather than what they should not do.  Civility training has the benefit of engaging all employees versus a much smaller proportion of people that or perceived themselves as potential harassers.  Civility training also has the ability to increase influence, build trust and collaboration, foster inclusion, increase performance and patient safety and reduce bullying and harassment.  Civility training often includes the costs of incivility, the benefits of civility, what constitutes appropriate or inappropriate behavior, self-awareness of one's own behavior, interpersonal skills training, and coaching on what to do if you're a target or a witness of incivility. There's often a discussion about how gender, culture or other individual differences affect perceptions of, and responses to, incivility. Leadership also received training about how to promote a culture of civility and how to hold people accountable for incivility.  Leaders set the tone; a study of cross-functional product teams revealed that when members treated members of their team well and fairly, team members were more productive individually and as a team.  They're also more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty.  It all starts at the top; when leaders are civil, it increases performance and creativity, allows for early mistake detection and initiative to take actions, and reduces emotional exhaustion.  Civility allows teams to function better in part by helping employees feel safer, happier and better.

In my study of over 20,000 employees, those that felt respected by their leader reported 92 percent greater focus and prioritization and 55 percent more engagement.  By creating a civil climate, you can enable greater collaboration marked by people who reciprocate respectful behavior.  There's strong empirical evidence that supports the effectiveness of workplace civility training.  For example, in hospital settings, researchers found significant improvements in employee reports of incivility, burnout, trust in management, and absences using a program they called CREW which stood for Civility, Respect and Engagement in the Workforce.  I have found that workplace civility trainings improve feelings of respect and decreases perceptions of bullying and harassment.  In addition to training, leaders may use various tools to ascertain their culture and trace improvements.

For example, social network analysis is a wonderful tool that helps us determine the nuances and relationships, how are people perceived, how are they scored for civility.  Such analysis also allows us to comprehend the bigger picture, you know, who is working well with others, who's bringing departments together or keeping them apart, and how are these relationships affecting the team, the network and the organization.  Managers might sense a problem between two individuals, but it's much harder to detect broader issues.  Organizational and social network analysis brings these underlying issues to the fore.  We use short, ten-minute surveys to ascertain the positive or negative health of groups of employees.  We ask employees to evaluate their positive and negative relationship with others, as well as the perceived civility of their fellow employees.  We combine this data, create network maps and measures; this data then allows us to evaluate individual relationships, as well as how civility or incivility is affecting the network as a whole.  Similar analysis could be done to track the extent of workplace harassment.

Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this effort to understand and prevent harassment in the workplace and build more respectful workplaces where people thrive.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you very much.  Mr. Buelow?

BUELOW: Good morning, Chair Lipnic and Commissioners Feldblum and Burrows. Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today to discuss harassment prevention.  My organization, EVERFI, is a leading provider of online education that addresses some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation's corporations and schools.  EVERFI is unique in that we utilize a prevention-based public health approach to address workplace harassment and other critical social issues.  I recognize that people are often unclear about what public health is, whereas the field of medicine is about treating individuals after they've gotten sick or injured, public health is about preventing populations from getting sick or injured to begin with.  Too often workplace harassment initiatives focus on how to define and respond to illegal behavior.  EVERFI believes that organizations should shift the balance to prioritize prevention, stopping concerning behavior before individuals are harmed.  Prevention programs that use a positive, values-based approach can be far more effective in shaping behavior than the consequence avoidance focus of traditional anti-harassment training.  Telling employees about actions that violate policy places focus on what not to do, behaviors that are often only perpetuated by a small subset of employees.  It is much more effective to say our organization is a great place to work, here's how we respect and support each other so that we can all do our very best.  This action-oriented message engages and empowers all employees to create a safe and respectful workplace culture.

This engagement of the healthy majority of employees is central to the evidence-based approach of bystander intervention; when it comes to bystander intervention, many employees can identify situations of blatant harassment, but they may not recognize some of the less egregious, precursor behaviors that lead to those situations.  They also may not know what to say or do or may worry that getting involved won't be supported by their peers.  Thus, good bystander intervention training will present a range of inappropriate behaviors and encourage employees to take action across the spectrum.  It will provide many different options for taking action; that can vary based on employee's unique styles and strengths, the setting of the incident, and the positions of the individuals involved.  And lastly, it will include messages that help individuals know that intervening is socially acceptable and encouraged.

Organizations are increasingly using online training to complement or replace the in-person programs that have been traditionally utilized to address workplace harassment.  While both approaches have merit, especially together, I've been asked today to talk about unique advantages of online training that can be difficult to achieve via in-person programming.  These fall into the categories of compliance, content, design, administration and data.  While all five of these areas are critical and addressed in my written statement, I will focus on design and data in these remarks today.  To maximize impact, trainings must be designed to meet employees where they are with a degree of personalization that can be challenging for in-person programming.  This can include personalized feedback, attitudinal questions, customized content based on employee characteristics like culturally appropriate messages based on geographic region, and unique pathways through skill-building scenarios.  Further, because this training requires discussion of sensitive topics, reflections about personal values and practicing new skills, some employees may feel uncomfortable doing this work in an in-person group setting.

Finally, online courses allow organizations to provide this type of personalized experience at scale, which is particularly useful if your workplace is dispersed or in locations that make in-person training difficult like construction sites, warehouses and retail stores. Turning to data, online training can include pre and post surveys to monitor changes and employee's knowledge, attitudes and behaviors and provide real-time insights on workplace culture.  This data can be invaluable in informing resource allocation and strengthening ongoing initiatives. For example, if employee survey responses indicate a lack of confidence around intervening if they witness harassment, the employer could then launch a focused communication campaign to address this gap and encourage actions that protect workplace culture; or, if HR is made aware of harassment within a particular division but they're not receiving reports, climate surveys can help uncover whether this is simply the result of lack of awareness, of reporting resources, or something more complex, like fears of retaliation.

I'd like to conclude by noting that training is just the tip of the iceberg in our efforts to address workplace harassment.  Training must be supported by other crucial elements of a comprehensive prevention strategy like organization-wide commitment, including visible leadership and meaningful investment, robust policies and procedures that are strongly and consistently enforced, and rigorous intentionality like data collection, goal setting and strategic planning.

Thank you for allowing me to share my perspective and for the EEOC's ongoing leadership and commitment in this area.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you, Mr. Buelow.  Professor Gentile?

Can you make sure your microphone is on, and pull the mic close to you, please?

Okay, I think that's better.

GENTILE: Good morning to Chair Lipnic and Commissioners Feldblum and Burrows. Thank you for the chance to speak with you and thank you, especially, for the chance to hear from my fellow panelists here.  It's been really fascinating.  I've been asked to share some information first about the giving voice to values, or GVV approach to values-driven --

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Professor, could you just pull a little bit closer to you?  It sounds a little low to me.

GENTILE: How's that?

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  That's much better.

GENTILE: Okay.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you.

GENTILE: I've been asked to share some information first about the Giving Voice to Values, or GVV approach to values-driven leadership development; and second, how it can be useful in addressing and preventing workplace harassment. First of all, what is Giving Voice to Values?  Giving Voice to Values, or GVV, is an innovative approach to values-driven leadership development that was created for use in business schools and in the workplace.  GVV is based at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and it was launched by the Aspen Institute Yale School of Management and Babson College.  Drawing on actual experience and scholarship, GVV fills a long-standing and critical gap in the development of value-centered leaders and managers.  And GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical, rather, GVV starts with the premise that most of us already want to act on our values, but that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully.  This pedagogy in curriculum are about raising those odds.  Rather than a focus on ethical analysis, the GVV curriculum focuses on ethical implementation, and it asks the question what if I were going to act on my values, what would I say and do, how could I be most effective?

After working for ten years at Harvard Business School where I helped develop their required curriculum for ethical leadership and having advised many schools and organizations, I developed the GVV approach out of frustration with traditional approaches.  We typically approach questions of values and unethical behavior in organizations, including harassment, as if it were strictly a matter of cognitive understanding, as if sharing the relevant rules, regulations, codes of conduct and relevant definitions was what was most needed, along with the opportunity to consider case scenarios and to determine what was over the line or not.  In educational context, we would call this a focus on awareness analysis; that is helping individuals to learn to recognize problematic behavior, that's awareness, and to decide whether it was acceptable or not, analysis.  Increasingly, I saw that this sort of training was insufficient and in some cases counterproductive; that is simply knowing what is right is not enough, and in some cases endless discussions actually raised resentment or provided opportunities to rehearse defenses and rationalizations for unacceptable behaviors.  It became a sort of schooling for sophistry, if you will.  Based on my review of the literature, it appears that traditional anti-harassment training suffers from some of the same problems.  Based on this dispiriting experience and informed by the idea that actual prescripting rehearsal and peer coaching stood the chance of having a greater positive impact on behavior, I developed the GVV pedagogy.

GVV is based on the thought experiment; once individuals are made aware of the relevant definitions and policies and laws, because that information is still important; it can often be communicated more efficiently online or through print modalities.  The GVV thought experiment involves sharing scenarios that are what we call "post decision-making"; that is the protagonist has already decided what the right thing to do is, and is invited to work through a template of questions and to draw on lessons from research, on problem reframing, decision-making biases, influenced tactics, and so on in order to craft and rehearse, importantly, the most effective responses to the offending behaviors.  We don't ask individuals what would you do, as that question can trigger defensive or resistant behaviors, often unconsciously, and there's a lot of research to support that.  Instead we ask what if you were this person who wants to act in this values-driven manner, for example, to respond and to stop harassing behaviors toward oneself or others, what would you say and do to be effective.  There's a great deal more to the process but the heart of it is this process to "rewire," if you will, the unconscious process that often stops those of us who want to resist or intervene in bad behaviors, and to help us be more skillful when we do so.  Through literal prescripting, rehearsal, peer coaching, GVV builds the skill and comfort and importantly the habit of effective action.  The reality is that at work or almost anywhere in our lives, we cannot make anyone think or believe or feel anything else, but we can expect and build the muscle memory, we call it the "moral muscle memory," to behave in ways that advances success of the organization, which means without harassment.

We've gathered much information anecdotal and increasingly research-based to support the effectiveness of this approach.  GVV spread across the globe with over 1,000 pilots on all seven continents.  We make most of the material available for free.  It's been used in legal education, medical education, in companies large and small, other organizations such as the UN, the Australian Police Force, the U.S. military.  In fact, it was the U.S. Army that first asked me to share the approach for use around harassment as part of their SHARP program.  And some scholars have begun to publish about the use of GVV around harassment.

There's more to say but let me conclude by noting that I believe that it's useful to apply the sort of pedagogical slight-of-hand that GVV employs to workplace harassment; that is rather than asking what is harassment or why is harassment detrimental, asking instead what if I wanted to put a stop to offensive behaviors as target or witness, whether or not they reach the level of reportable offenses, and what if I wanted to encourage safe and productive work environments, like engaging in this GVV thought experiment, all individuals have the opportunity, the permission and even the requirement to craft scripts and action plans and to literally rehearse them, thereby building that moral muscle memory.  One of the beauties of the approach is that it can be used well before behaviors cross the line into legal infractions and the methodologies based upon both empathy and skillful communication more than blaming or shaming.  It requires moral competence more than moral courage, and therefore feels more accessible to many employees.  I believe this is a very effective approach for workplace harassment. Thanks.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Thank you very much, Professor Gentile, and many thanks to all of our witnesses.  So we are going to take a ten-minute break; I would ask people to be back here about 10:47, just to be precise.  But I do want to ask because I want to make sure that people in the back of the room can hear us.  Are people having difficulty -- if you are in the back of the room, raise your hand if you're having trouble hearing at all.

Okay.  Okay, I just want to make sure that our mics are working as we need them to be.

So, we will take a break, and then we will start with our rounds of questions.  Thank you.

(Whereupon, the above-entitled matter went off the record at 10:37 a.m. and resumed at 10:47 a.m.)

 

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Okay, we are back.  And we will now begin with questions for all of our witnesses.  And I remind our witnesses and my colleagues that we have ten minutes -- we'll do two rounds of questions, ten minutes for each commissioner, so that ten minutes that we are asking questions of you includes our time for questions and your time for responses, so please be succinct in your answers because we might want other panelists to address the same question or move onto some other questions within our time frame.  And also, again, just to remind the witnesses to make sure the microphone is close to you when you go to answer the question.

So with that, I will begin with the first round.  So, the first question that I have is actually for Mr. Buelow from EVERFI, and part of this is because I've long been fascinated with public health, and so your public health-based approach -- and one of the things that has always fascinated me about public health is the concept of "patient zero" and the idea that things can be traced down to the person who originates whatever the public health crisis may be, which is just I think fascinating.  So I wonder if you could address that a little bit in terms of the context of both training, but also approaches of employers to try -- is it trying to get at one person, is it a collective group, if you could just address that.

BUELOW: Sure, so I'll start with the last part of your question around addressing one person versus addressing groups of individuals. And I think that research has shown that things like offender management programs, like addressing individuals that are engaging in the most problematic behavior is a long-term investment and it takes time, and change is absolutely possible; but a quicker lever for making behavior change is changing the culture and the surrounding climate of accountability within peer groups about behaviors that are unacceptable and inappropriate. People will be much quicker to change behaviors when peers are holding them accountable. But to the broader public health approach of your question, I think it's really important for us to think about how we define the question, "What is prevention?"  And public health really lays it out into three categories; primary, secondary, and tertiary.  Primary prevention is really about root causes and deterring the onset of problematic behaviors before they occur. Secondary prevention is around reducing exposure to and effectively responding in risky and harmful situations; and then tertiary prevention is around mitigating impact and preventing recurrence.  And I think that when we ask particularly leadership around how they think about prevention, it tends to be focused on the secondary and tertiary categories, but the greatest return on investment of prevention work is keeping harassment from happening to begin with, rather than continually responding to it when reports are made.

So I think that fundamentally reshifting the way that we prioritize our efforts, all three of those categories are critical, but really shifting the balance to prioritize primary prevention is where we're truly going to make change.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Okay, thank you. I have a question both for Ms. Wallestad and then Mr. Bowman.  So, Ms. Wallestad, your experience in terms of board governance and board accountability, I wonder if you could -- and one of the things that you talked about -- right here -- was, boards having a false sense of security in terms of how the CEO may be running the place.  So I wonder if you could talk about that a little bit, and then Mr. Bowman, I want to sort of shift it to you in terms of your experience probably with more private sector for-profit companies and  relate that to any sort of board experience or false sense of security there in terms of how the CEO is doing things.

WALLESTAD: Yes, thank you for the question. I think that really when I talk about false sense of security, it goes back to the place that the Board of Directors sit and the limited visibility that they have, and the assumption that I think too many boards have that if everything looks okay from their vantage point, that everything is okay; if the financial metrics look okay, if they haven't heard any complaints, et cetera, that everything is okay.  And what I would say in response to that is no, in fact, boards have a responsibility to proactively better understand and more holistically understand the CEO or executive director's leadership and performance, and that when they are focused too narrowly on specific metrics that might not be illuminating in terms of the way that the CEO is actually leading the organization, they're in a very vulnerable spot in terms of understanding what's actually going on.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  And how do they go about doing that, though?

WALLESTAD: In terms of that better understanding?

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Right.

WALLESTAD: Really, the best lever is the CEO's annual assessment and doing that in a more comprehensive way. So instead of just thinking about their reflections on the CEO's performance or written metrics that are not illuminating in terms of leadership style, asking for that type of feedback from direct reports; too many boards are not doing CEO assessments at all; too many boards when they're doing assessments are not getting any upward feedback from employees or staff members within the organization; they're not necessarily paying attention to things like leadership style and workplace environment, and those really are critical pieces of understanding how the CEO is leading.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Okay.  Mr. Bowman?

BOWMAN: Yes, you are correct that most of the work that I do is certainly more so in the private sector. And what's interesting is that same gap that you spoke about really does exist; it's difficult for boards to be able to see into the organizations as closely perhaps as we would like.  But what's interesting is for many of the organizations I work with, they're all significantly larger than non-profits, and so the distance can be quite a distance.  And so, the fact of the matter is I think that very often CEO's get blinded in the same way that boards do; they sit closer to the boards in many ways in terms of their day-to-day interactions, so often in the entire C-Suite.  So the key thing is to make sure, I think, really that your ethics, your compliance, your HR and your legal teams are really permeating at all levels down through an organization so that the issues are getting resolved as they come up.  And the second thing is that as analysis is floating up to the CEO which presumably is shared with the board.  It might be shared with the General Counsel, it might be shared with the head of HR, there are multiple attendees many times within many of these board meetings so the data does need to get there.

The last thing I'll share with you is that it's critically important -- it's really okay for the board to ask, and ask not just for what's going on, but ask the questions what are we doing to proactively prevent the bad things that we know can happen.  And that's certainly within the purview of the board to ask those questions and to create accountability through the organization.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  And Professor Gentile, I wonder if you had any comments on that just from a business ethics approach in terms of the board's accountability in driving that through the organization?

GENTILE: Yes --

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  And if you could talk into the microphone, please.

GENTILE: I'm used to having conversations.

(Laughter.)

Yes, what we see just all over the map, not just around harassment, but in the business school environment and all the various kinds of poor behavior, misbehaviors, scandals that we see is a willful blindness on the part of boards.  There's a wonderful scholar, Margaret Heffernan, who wrote a book called "Willful Blindness" which is specifically about all the reasons why leadership -- not just boards, but including boards, and especially boards -- have motivations not to see what's going on.  And even when I was teaching in another business school, previously, folks would talk about the intention to preserve deniability.  So there's often a motivation not to really see what's going on, and then of course we have certain kinds of behaviors that are rampant in boards, people have already spoken on this panel about the homogeneity of leadership often, and so there's often a kind of a movement toward consensus on boards, people like to be able to move towards consensus.  And if the group is very homogenous it's easier to achieve that, and so there are reasons not to see things, not to be able to observe things; there's a perception that you're being disloyal to the group if you do perceive things. There's always both the fear of litigation and the use of the fear of litigation in order to avoid certain kinds of behaviors.  Previously when I was at Harvard Business School I designed and taught my first course on managing diversity, and one of the things that always came up, well if we do this kind of training and we uncover this kind of behavior, isn't it in fact going to be a reason for us to be vulnerable in lawsuits.  And so it became sort of a self-fulfilling negative prophecy because we can't talk about these things, because in fact if we know about them, we're guilty of them. It was never the idea that perhaps we can talk about them because we want to change them, which is part of my motivation, but, I agree with what Anne said.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  Okay.  And Professor Porath, I wonder if you have any comments related to that?  And then, also, about the ability of organizations, how they actually drive that civility culture into the organization?

PORATH: Yes, so I've seen a lot more organizations, whether it's government agencies, non-profits or privately and publicly held organizations, do massive civility trainings, civility initiatives where they focus on it for a year or more, which has been great as far as really trying to focus on building more positive cultures. And I think there's a variety of different forms that this can take; often times it starts with a talk or a training devoted to the top executive leadership, whether that's boards but more often just the C-Suite and the I would say top 300 or 400 leaders and managers typically in organizations. And then often times to just push that down a level so that all managers and leaders are getting training on this because it's so important that one has been stated so often; leaders are the role models, so they have to walk the talk; and two, they're going to be the ones that really help hold people accountable to it.  One of the things that's been very, very valuable is whether the teams developed a code of civility or principles of civility or standards of respect, but some sense of what are the norms that we're willing to live by and hold each other accountable for.  What's worked really well is when they solicit ideas from employees so that they buy in, but what's worked really well, again, blue collar/white collar professions is people becoming much more immersed in the norms, knowing what they are, and being comfortable calling anyone out on them, regardless of how much power status the person has.

So, for example, one group had ten principles that they really knew well and they would just say, "Seven, dude.  Seven."  Or, "Five, man. Five."  And they had them, again, they reinforced them so well; they had them on their name badges, they had them plastered in rooms, and so it became, we can help coach each other on this.  This is not necessarily something that's seen as so negative, so punishing, but rather we're trying to lift each other up.  We're responsible for coaching each other and holding ourselves to a higher standard where everyone is treated with respect and dignity. And when we slip up, as everyone does now and then, we're there to kind of support each other, but raise each other up.  And so for me the civility norms or standards of respect has been a crucial piece of getting everyone into the game, so to speak, and really help spread it and helping bystanders become a very active participant in moving the culture forward or up so to speak.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: So we see how quickly ten minutes goes by. Commissioner Feldblum?

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Great. Thank you. I want to talk about how we can leverage, oh, that leveraging, how do we leverage the current attention on sex‑based harassment to preventing harassment on all bases?

Our 2016 report was on harassment on all bases. Our road map was harassment on all bases. Our charges reflect that. Yes, our greatest number of charges, 49 percent, are sex‑based. Right behind that is race‑based harassment at 33 percent. And we have charges on all other bases.

So my question, and I think this is largely, to Ms. Wallestad as you're talking at boards, Mr. Bowman as you're talking to private employers, Ms. Giron and Valles, as you are working with your unions, how do you take the attention that you've now gotten because of sex‑based harassment but encourage the people who are responsible for implementing solutions to make sure they deploy those solutions to stop harassment on all bases. Ms. Wallestad.

WALLESTAD: Thank you for the question. I think one of the common threads that I'm hearing across all of the testimony that's been shared is the importance of addressing culture. I think that when boards and leadership teams and entire organizations think about the culture that allows or enables harassment to exist and persist, and address proactively those aspects of their culture that may be doing that, that that is an opportunity to address and prevent all forms of harassment

From the board vantage point, I think that boards have an opportunity to be really thoughtful and proactive about what are the indicators that may indicate that we have a cultural issue? Some of those are softer, and I talked about the CEO oversight role. Some of those I absolutely agree with you, David, that it's about the questions that boards are asking that help get underneath some of those dynamics.

It's also really important that boards understand the data and metrics that they have available to them and they disaggregate. So, looking at things like staff composition, looking at their own board composition, looking at staff retention metrics in a disaggregated way based on gender, race and other categories, looking at staff satisfaction in the same way, those things are really, really important as potential, so I won't say definite, but potential indicators of cultural challenges that then create the space and the opportunity for boards to ask deeper and more substantive investigative questions that can help address culture.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM:  Thank you. Mr. Bowman?

BOWMAN: Yes. Over the last year my team will have trained, we estimate around 49,000 people. We get in front of a lot of individuals, and only on one occasion in the last, I would say, five years, have we had a client that insisted on just doing sexual harassment training. I want to share with you why we are pretty intent on encouraging our clients to go well beyond sexual harassment.

It's really a story that we learn out of diversity and inclusion. Back in the '80s when Workforce 2000 came out, quite passe at this point, but nevertheless, the focus was so much on race and gender. And what it does, if you limit your efforts as it embraces part of the population it pushes back others. That can have a very negative, almost antagonistic effect in what you're trying to accomplish overall.

What we found is that as we broadened the definition of diversity, what we found is that people were then able to see themselves. They were able to see not just their age and their race and their gender or their protected classes as we talked about in the law, but they were also able to see their differences in thoughts and beliefs and experiences as we wrestled with the diversity and inclusion space.

So when you think about harassment, we actually by using all the protected classes in almost all of our courses, were able to take particularly straight white men and bring them into the fold and allow them to see how this is valuable to them, not just what is sometimes stereotyped as a woman's issue or a Black or Latino issue.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Ms. Valles?

VALLES: What I would add is, I'm tracking that we have a Commission of all women commissioners. Our work on gender‑based violence started around organization equity and inclusion. We had a changing demographic in our union of a janitorial industry that used to be predominantly African American that became 99 percent Latino in California, so we had natural tensions there, and we had to change our mind shift as a union that a lot of organizations have that we built solidarity across what we have in common.

We had to change that to a guiding principle of, we built solidarity and we celebrate different. And so when we started our work on organizational equity and inclusion, a lot of the same principles of really understanding what it meant to work while Black for many of our security officers, understanding what it was to be an undocumented woman working on the night shift, understanding what the LGBQTI community is experiencing within our industry.

So I would say that a lot of what you heard from Veronica today really does apply. What we've used has been cohorts. We have a Black Worker Justice campaign in our security industry where a lot of African‑Americans are being run out of California and are being displaced the way that they are around the country.

And so the same principles, that is actually organizational equity and inclusion, is  what allowed before we started Ya Basta three years ago, it's what opened up the doors for really an aha moment about dominant groups and subordinated groups within our own union, ourselves as a union but also within our membership.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Thank you. And I just think it's important in a moment like this to make that clear because I think there is an interest in employers to do better and again, the three of you, Professor Porath, Mr. Buelow, Professor Gentile, your work itself is by definition trying to expand, which I think is so important.

So Mr. Buelow, I want to ask you in terms of the training. I think it was important to us to have someone who does represent an organization that does online training, because so much of the research that we had done before for the task force report was not positive about that, and yet I think we have learned, I have learned about some of the positive pieces but I'm particularly interested in your point that it might be most positive when it is complementary with other in‑person training and in particular, skills‑based training.

So my question to Professors Porath and Gentile is, since those have to be sort of small groups, how do you in fact either train the trainers or even if it's not officially trainers, how do you train the groups? Mr. Buelow?

BUELOW: I think when it comes to the modality of training, you really have to be thinking about what does quality look like? And I think that historically, online training has been very much about check the box, compliance with legislative requirements. And we know that when we're focusing on defining a legal behavior, that's not a great lever for change.

I think in terms of the symbiosis of online training and live training is such that recommendations that we would make to organizations is reach your populations of employees, leveraging digital web‑based training at scale and use some of the mechanisms of tracking and data collection and evaluation from those training that are reaching populations of employees to both elevate the foundation of knowledge, awareness and skills that employees are going to then bring to those next smaller in‑person training that you're having with them.

But also come armed with data insights about the unique needs and strengths of those employees. You're not just guessing about the conversations that you should be having, you're very, very clear about where they are strong and where there's deficiencies in their understanding and their skills, and you're able to have just a heightened conversation because there is this baseline of understanding that they're bringing with them into those training.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Great. Professor Porath?

PORATH: I agree. I think that when you can complement both approaches, particularly start with the in person for the top leaders and pushing it down, that's worked really well for starting cultural change. It tends to happen, as you can imagine, the in‑person training for the top echelons of leaders, or couple echelons of leaders, and then moving into train the trainer, so having whether it's in person or online webinars, depending on how global the organization is, for directors of human resources and/or leading and developing groups who would then transfer the train the trainer program down to staff members and employees.

Particularly again where I've seen this work really well is when it is global. When it just, it would be very difficult to get in‑person training, particularly by whether it's the researcher, the person behind the program, there.  It would be cost‑prohibitive.

So I think that a complementing the idea, and then one of the things that I've been doing is also adding online videos for some of the training, so kind of learning bursts if you will, with this approach, that gives people even more ammunition, more skills and training and so forth, more hopefully inspiration and motivation to again lead with respect, as well as there are some leadership modules that are like Q&A that can be videos as well.

We're seeing that that's been working quite effectively, the pairing of them. Especially if you make sure that you're pushing it down. Because you really do want to be comprehensive. Especially, again, if we're going to be responsible for holding each other accountable, it makes sense to make sure that everyone is gaining a greater awareness.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: And Professor Gentile, I'm out of time but that's okay. Just make a few brief comments and speak loudly right into the mike.

GENTILE: Okay. My thoughts on this have kind of evolved. I no longer see it as one size fits all. I used think, and you are probably not surprised, that you would want to use a given voice to values approach person, face to face, because it's about building the ability to speak to each other, that conversation, comfort, confident skill.

I've actually been working with a lot of companies for reasons as Ms. Porath pointed out who are either dispersed, who have employees who can't come together physically or other reasons where we needed to look at online options, and actually we found some really effective things.

I won't go into detail now, but let me just say that we've been working to create an online interactive series of modules that are cohort bases, so in fact you are in a group, you know who's in the group with you, you are learning the methodology, you are interacting, you're creating scripts and action plans, and in fact, if you bring senior people in the same group with the more junior people in the group, it's hugely impactful.

And then we often use that as a precursor to an in person train the trainer and then those individuals, those change champions, go on and do more in person stuff. So it's a mix.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Great. Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Commissioner Burrows?

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you. This, I have a couple of questions actually for Ms. Valles and Ms. Giron. First of all, bienvenido y muchas, muchas gracias for your fantastic work and for your leadership. You talk, we all talk a lot about leading and changing institutions from the bottom up, but you guys have really shown us what that looks like. So I appreciate that.

I really wanted to pick up on a point that Ms. Valles made earlier. We see instances here at the EEOC, we see the gamut from all employers, the Fortune 500 all the way to very small employers that just barely make our 15‑person threshold, and one of the things that I have been reflecting on is that there's often these situations where harassers are preying on certain women that they think are particularly vulnerable. I'll give you an example.

Earlier this year our San Francisco district office obtained about $850,000.00 settlement on behalf of several young, African‑American female janitors who had developmental disabilities. Their supervisor had been making sexual advances, groping them, exposing themselves to him in the workplace. In that case the supervisor clearly felt that they either would not stand up for themselves, didn't know how to or wouldn't dare. Of course, they had in the back of their minds the fear of retaliation.

So we see similar patterns in our cases involving farmworkers, some of the most vulnerable women, women who face rape and all sorts of assault and abuse. So I'm wondering whether or not, and this is really to both of you, you have thoughts on ways in which these different, you know, race and national origin and other sorts of demographic issues come together in this issue of who is facing harassment in the workplace and who's not.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): Yes, I can talk to that as a janitor, we are more vulnerable, that there's many women just like me. And one of the issues is that we work completely by ourselves until we're not alone any more, and then we also so many of us have documentation status issues.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): And so this is why for us it's so important that we trust one another, that we give each other that information, because many times when you're more vulnerable, you don't trust the people in the suits and you trust people like me.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): So sometimes they know what makes us vulnerable and unfortunately, sometimes that gets out and then they use that against us and they have that power against us, so this is why it's incredibly important that these women know that despite those vulnerabilities, they have rights.

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you for that. I also, switching gears a little bit, I had a question for Ms. Wallestad about, I am absolutely fascinated about this idea of holding CEOs accountable, and I think it's probably easier now because the question of what is your exposure, if it turns out that the CEO is the harasser, is top of mind, shall we say, for everyone.

I think the question I am really itching to hear you talk about is, you mentioned that there should be these whistle‑blower kind of procedures so that if you have someone who is, you know, day to day coming into the company, just sort of new entry person and experiences harassment, they can tell the board.

I'm sort of thinking that would be great, but at the same time having a very difficult time imagining someone, perhaps others are more courageous than I am, but someone going forward and saying, hey, let me tell on the CEO. Right?

And so how does a sincere board who really wants that information and maybe has the right policy, what are you recommending for making people believe that it's okay to do that kind of report? Because you're really talking about, it's tough for people, let me tell you, they're terrified to tell on their first‑line supervisor. So, speak to that.

WALLESTAD: Sure. Thanks for the question. You said earlier that when we're talking about preventing harassment we're really talking about preventing the abuse of power, and so absolutely the board's role, particularly as it relates to the CEO, is making sure that the CEO is not abusing his or her power, or enabling or allowing others to do so.

So there is an opportunity for boards to think about, how do we bring our policies that seek to do that to life? How do we make it not just something that is an employee handbook that people see when they start, or that's up on the wall that nobody talks, how do we make that commitment real?

There are things that can be done in terms of setting an expectation that that whistle‑blower policy is shared with the staff at some sort of regular interval, and then it comes with the message that talks about the importance of reporting issues. I think that separate from the whistle‑blower policy, boards that are transparent about the way they are approaching CEO assessment can help set tone that has impact on the willingness to share feedback via that assessment but also reporting via the whistle‑blower policy.

Going back to something you were saying, I think that some boards are in that place of either actually being in the sort of orientation of plausible deniability or being perceived to be in that spot, and so the more proactively the board can say, here's how we approach these things, we take these things seriously, these are the processes that we've put in place to ensure that there is the space that if folks have concerns there's a reporting vehicle or a feedback sharing vehicle, that makes a difference in terms of instilling that confidence.

The other thing that I would say is if and organization is in the place of having had an issue or harassment, the way that the board responds to that is not only germane to that particular incident but to future potential handlings for reporting. Some of the headlines that we've seen over the past year, unfortunately, really have sent a message to employees within those organizations at least, that the board wasn't taking those things seriously. I think boards have an opportunity to undo that damage within their own organizations by being more proactive.

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Okay, thank you. I was also thinking about ways in which it's important to tailor our approach to different work forces, and so I am thinking about trying to understand which of the suggestions we've been talking about today work better in certain places.

I'll give you an example. I was recently at a conference of tradeswomen out in Seattle. Terrific issues there, and just judging from our cases that we do, they are really on the knife's edge of some of the worst things that we see in terms of construction, because you're also in addition to harassment looking at, you've got moving equipment, you could literally have physical harm. In fact, there's at least one woman who was beaten to death by her harasser in the construction context.

So the question I guess I have for you all is, one of the things that that they were, that was recommended, I guess I'll start with Professor Porath, but others, we've talked a lot about climate surveys, one of the things that they really hammered home is that climate surveys will not work in the context of construction for the very simple reason that people have short time lengths.

There are many reasons, but one of them is that you're changing projects, etc. I can imagine that may be the case in other contexts. At the same time they're really interested in, is there a way to anonymously report? Is there a way we can get this information but not, because you know, there are very few women, very few people of color, and so I'd love to have thoughts about whether or not there are climate surveys recommended in certain contexts but not in others, or if there's a substitute that might work for folks in those industries where the climate survey is just not effective.

I'll start with Professor Porath and then I'd love to also hear from Ms. Giron and Ms. Valles whether they think a climate survey or something else could sort of provide that role in the context for janitors. If that would be effective, because I think it's really important for employers to be able to get that information, to get a sense of, because sometimes you may not know, do you have a little incivility problem or are people being raped. Right?

And there's a huge difference on how you're going to behave depending on which -- you may really not know, if you're a big enough employer, how much of a problem you have. So, Professor Porath?

PORATH: Yes. Thank you. I do think it takes many different forms. The trainings and the climate surveys depending on the industry, and so the whole goal as a researcher or consultant is to tailor it specifically to their needs.

For example, have worked with the manufacturing sector where they were worried about making sure, how do people respond to incivility versus how do they respond to bullying and/or harassment? Who do you report it to? How seriously do you take these things? Things like that, so making those connections so that all employees are receiving training in this massive organization.

I think one tricky context becomes where there's unions involved. Having spent time with hospitals, they have to think about employees that are in the union versus those that aren't and what they may or may not be willing to answer in climate surveys, particularly around protected anonymity. So the 360 feedback that we would like to get, sometimes there are cautions when unions are involved. So what do you do?

In this particular hospital that I was working with last week, we're turning to the social network surveys that aren't going to be identified in 360 feedback but rather a sense of what the connections look like in networks in which they work, the colleagues.

I think in other industries, particular tech industries or more global industries where they're using a lot of technology, we try to tap like what's the civility or lack of civility look like with respect to, I call it e‑civility, but conversations via email and/or virtual contact.

So I think you're trying to make sure that you're tapping whatever context you're working with in ways that matter to them. Those are some of the aspects that I've seen pop up across different industries, and I think unions being one of the biggest concerns. What will they or won't they be willing to do, and how do you find ways to navigate that such that they will be willing to report?

VALLES: I'd like to speak to that. I think that one of the things that we've been dealing with are union employers, and we did accomplish through the janitors' contract negotiations, is we created a hotline. And it's not a hotline that's run by the employers, it's not the hotline that's run by the union, but it's actually the East Los Angeles Women's Center that has an 800-number statewide in California.

The goal of that is for those women who do not feel comfortable reporting, who want, we learn through this work survivor‑based approach, that how someone responds to the first time you're breaking that silence, if you have been assaulted or raped will make the difference whether or not you live in silence or whether or not you get the help that you need.

And so that is the trauma‑informed approach that the Promotoras have learned, so part of that was how do we direct them there? We had to be open. We had to get the employers there, because they're like, you're going to air our laundry out, right? But ultimately we all agreed because of the disparity of the problem.

And so the goal is to study that. What is it that the women are saying without necessarily disclosing their names and looking at, are they complaining about another coworker, are they bringing up issues against the foreman or the supervisor, and understanding exactly what's playing out. I think that will be very useful information.

I also want to note that another model that we've been studying a lot has been the Coalition of Immokalee Workers where the Fair Food program, and they have a climate study where the actual workers, farmworkers, go in and they do an audit. And that audit is used to then grade that farmer and they're able to take action.

So they're really, it's a peer‑to‑peer model where they're empowered. Obviously there's professional help, in that they work with a judge that helps to navigate that, so I think it's incredibly important.

We are working currently with Futures Without Violence and Cornell University to do a peer‑to‑peer study about why aren't women reporting, what's keeping them from doing that, who do they feel more comfortable with, what's going on with HR, what's going on with the demographics of the trainers, which is also important, but we haven't released those results yet because it's still in progress.

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Okay, for round 2. Actually, I want to follow up on Commissioner's Burrows question and what you were just saying, Ms. Valles and Ms. Giron. First, to Ms. Giron. When you began to develop the training, I'm curious what response you got from your coworkers. Were they enthusiastic about it, were they afraid, how did they react to your wanting to put this training together?

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken)

VALLES (Interpreting): At first our coworkers were really scared. Some of them even said, oh, you're working with the company. But once they began to have more knowledge of the Promotoras program and that we were certified and that we had done this separately, then they began to open up and really trust us and trust us enough where they started just reporting to us. That's why we knew that we had to get more equipped.

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): And so part of that was what were our ideas and their ideas about the solutions that could be implemented, and it was surprising because many of them had never been asked.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: And then Ms. Valles, what about the reaction from the employers that you work with?

VALLES: The employers actually started with the EEOC, our work with Rape on the Night Shift, Diana Parks worked on that, and so initially some of our biggest employers are featured in that documentary because they have non‑union sites. And so they said, you know, they didn't come to the table just like, ugh, but they saw these t‑shirts of Ya Basta and we had surveys and bargaining surveys that had gone much deeper on this issue than we ever had before and we said we can't be a janitors' union if we don't do anything, and eventually they partnered.

They knew that if, that they wanted to be models on this issue. They had already been models on paying $15.00 an hour and fully‑paid health care, and so they said let's figure this out together because it's hurting us.

In addition they did say, but you gotta figure out how to deal with the entire industry. We are, this is going to cost us a lot of money to do in‑person two‑hour training every year, and so it was their help and partnering with us that eventually helped us get bi‑partisan support in the state legislature, in the Senate and in the Assembly, and got Governor Brown to pass it, because it was a mandate for the entire industry to provide in‑person training. Except that's every two years instead of every year, so they're still doing far and above.

So it's possible when you have a labor/management approach to bring together the sides and be able to come up with solutions when you deal with solutions and what this problem is creating and making sure that it's acknowledged and named that that you're not just denying that it's happening.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC:  And for those who aren't familiar with it, I do want to commend our Los Angeles District office for the work that they did and featured in the Frontline documentary and for Jim Lee, our deputy general counsel for all the work our General Counsel's Office did, but particularly Anna Park, who is featured in that.

I want to mention, as I was driving in this morning there was a story on NPR about a recent survey in response to the #MeToo movement. The reporting by Tovia Smith said, "One year after the #MeToo movement took off, new NPR poll shows the nation deeply divided on sexual assault and harassment. Most, 69 percent of more than 1000 Americans surveyed say the movement has created a climate in which offenders will now be held accountable but more than 40 percent feel the movement has gone too far.

What, exactly, "too far" means wasn't defined in the surveys, but in follow up conversations several respondents cited a rush to judgment, the prospect of unproven accusations ruining people's careers or reputations, and a bandwagon effect that may prompt some to claim sexual misconduct for behavior that doesn't quite rise to that level or certainly not to the legal level.

So I'm curious, and this is a question to many of you, I'm going to start with Mr. Bowman, your, in the work that you do, what you see as to essentially a backlash, right, and how you approach that in trying to change the culture and generally your thoughts along these lines.

BOWMAN: Thank you. I think it's important to remember that as we look back at the #MeToo movement that is now a year old, when we first started this the issue was not one of false complaints. The issue was an industry that had complaints that had never surfaced for upwards of 20 years. That's the core piece that we need to remember.

I'm a big believer that most great social causes, there's always some unintended consequences, what we might interpret in some ways as backlash. But I think we find ourselves in a situation where people are being, you know, losing jobs for no reason at all, where investigations are being done routinely in a haphazard or inappropriate way, I think that's not the case.

Certainly there've always been some investigations that are done better than others, that depend significantly on how well they're trained to do those investigations. There have been some cases, certainly if I think a little bit, of a rush to judgment, but I think it's important to emphasize that that's very much in the minority. That is not a majority problem.

The other thing to recognize when we get in this discussion is that there are three outcomes to an investigation, there are not two. The three outcomes are whether it was substantiated, it was unsubstantiated, or it was false. And the unsubstantiated area is always tricky. It's where we acknowledge, in fact, that there's not enough for us to conclude that somebody did something wrong. But in that assertion we also don't say that the complaining party made it up or lied or even acted in bad faith, because many times that's not true.

And so in corporations, I think in all employers, when we are trying very heavily to deal with the small issues in order to avoid the really big issues, we won't always get it right but most of my clients, I find, are doing it for the right reasons, putting in the resources to have the investigations done well, not unnecessarily jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions, and doing the very best that they can.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: And I'll open it up to anyone else. Ms. Wallestad, do you want to comment on --

WALLESTAD: I would defer to Mr. Bowman in terms of the legal guidance. I think the thing that I would add, just from the board perspective, is that places that I'm seeing that boards are getting in trouble is that they haven't been proactive in thinking about what is their process, and they haven't accessed good, strong external counsel, and I don't just mean legal counsel around what that process should be and what that should look like.

They get caught off guard and may make poor decisions as a result of that, so I would just add the importance of being thoughtful at the board level in advance of a specific issue to make sure that it can be a thoughtful one.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Yes. Professor Gentile?

GENTILE: I wanted to comment on that, because it seems to have a lot in common with the approach that we often take around issues of whistle‑blowing around other kinds of offenses, not just harassment. We know from the research that that can be a very costly activity for the person who blows the whistle, for the organization itself, for a lot of people involved.

And so one of the reasons that we wanted to create an approach based on this thought experiment about what if, is that we wanted people to be able to speak more effectively before something rose to the level of reportable offense or an offense that is mandatorily reported. And we work with government contractors who have to report certain kinds of behaviors, but there's a lot of things that lead you up to that path.

Recently I was asked to put together something about, how do you practice what to say if you're offended in the organization, but it may not necessarily have risen to the level of legally defined harassment? There are a number of steps that people can practice. I think a lot of the times that we end up with negative impact that we get is because people go immediately to either nothing, zero or a hundred.

And what we're trying to do build people's capacity to have a conversation about these kinds of issues in the way that is constructive, even with the folks who are offending you. Again, as I say, when it hasn't risen to the level of some kind of extreme examples that you guys have been sharing, where you can actually change the culture.

And so we've actually created a set of steps folks can take. I won't share it, because I think we're running out of time.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: If my colleagues will, oh, yes, Ms. Giron?

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): Part of changing the culture is recognizing that what do you have to gain by coming out and saying you've been raped and been assaulted? It's like wearing a tag saying "the raped woman." There's so much to lose, because then you're judged not only by your colleagues but also by your own family, your husband, and so you walk around with this label.

There's nothing to gain from this. And so we have to believe survivors and we have to remind ourselves that less than two percent of the claims are false. So that's why it's important, and that stigma that lives with the survivor that it's your fault because of what you wearing, or somehow that shame, you also have to break through that immediately everybody looks at you, oh, what did you do? Or, are you pretty enough to have been raped?

GIRON: (Foreign language spoken.)

VALLES (Interpreting): And that's exactly what we have to remind ourselves, because of that backlash. The important role of men and changing the culture so that men are also the ones reporting, just because it's not happening to you doesn't mean that you can't report it. That way you start that process, and we can get down to what's really happening in that workplace and whether or not somebody did it or not, and that's why it helps everybody to change the culture from the bottom up and we need to include men in the solutions.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Thank you very much. Commissioner Feldblum?

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: My question is something of a followup on this, so I think it shows you some of the work we've been thinking about, because it was very important in our report to note that our definition of harassment was not illegal conduct. We were trying to nip bad conduct in the bud before it rose, so someone, a janitor, being able to say no to something that's low‑level, before it rises to something like rape, right?

In that respect, thinking about proportionate consequences seems really important. And Mr. Bowman, I so appreciate your comment that every great social change movement has engendered backlash, and sometimes that backlash has been overstated for its own purposes.

So my question to you is, how should employers think about that proportionality, and how should they convey that? Not in the moment after they've gotten some bad behavior that isn't yet illegal, but ahead of time so that people know that there will be proportionate and therefore fair consequences? Open it up, starting with Mr. Bowman.

BOWMAN: It's interesting. We've been wrestling a lot with this word "investigation." And often when I'm training a class, I talk about when you hear the word investigation, somehow I manage somewhere between the FBI and the CIA in handcuffs and a lot of, more in the criminal context. And I don't do that to disparage the FBI at all, but the nature of their job is much different than what we do within our client spaces.

And we have to realize that word investigation is important, though, because it does engender a level of promptness, a level of due process and a level of thoroughness that needs to happen in those investigations.

But as the investigation comes to an end we simply make the decision, was there a violation of policy or not? Which is a much lower standard than getting to the severe or pervasive levels of it being unlawful under Title VII, or any other relevant law.

What's interesting is once we make that decision, then the doors open up again to a variety of options. I would suggest to you, I do a lot of one‑on‑one training where I sit with people who have violated the policies, and some of them are fairly egregious, but they haven't rose to the level of termination.

I tend not to get the low‑level ones. I get the folks who are right on the level of termination but they've decided not to, and in doing that we have the opportunity to sit with them in a one‑on‑one capacity and really educate them on what they did, why the behavior was problematic. As we said over here, what was the effect on the individual, which is often ignored.

And the other piece that we focus on are what are the excuses that you put in your own mind that allowed you to engage in this behavior? For example, they knew the joke was inappropriate at work but at the bar on Saturday nights with their colleagues, somehow they thought it was acceptable. Or on social media, it was acceptable.

So dispelling a lot of those, what we call excuses, is critically important. It's just an example of their, we often forget that there's such a huge array of things that employers small and large do to address harassment issues, and it's the minority that results in terminations. It's hardly the majority.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Mr. Buelow, maybe from a public health perspective in terms of consequences of bad behavior, do you have thoughts on that?

BUELOW: I think my thoughts are more from a prevention perspective, how you can begin to get people tracing backwards. I think a lot about bystander intervention and how we get individuals creating accountability that aren't necessarily institutional consequences for policy violations but social consequences, raised eyebrows or comments or callouts,

And so I think that bystander intervention scenarios that allow you to sort of walk through the progression where perhaps scenario number one is someone telling an offensive joke about race, or scenario number 2 is that same person engaging in some sort of a bullying behavior amongst colleagues. Next they're making a sexist comment to an individual person, and then lastly they're touching that person inappropriately.

I think in training, online or in person, following up with the question of where do you start to feel uncomfortable in that situation? Where did you start to see that that was a problem, and at that point what were your thoughts about taking action? What tools and skills would you feel comfortable in?

And understanding that that can vary based on who it is who's engaging in the behavior, and also who it is that's seeing the behavior, and whether or not they're confident taking direct interventions or maybe delegating to a colleague or maybe creating a distraction, just sort of changing the topic. And then really sort of getting a sense of what tools and skills they have in building their toolkit and then continuing to reinforce those things in ongoing training.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: I really like, Ms. Porath, your point of "hey dude, number five." Right? And everyone knows that and that sort of stops it at that level before it gets higher. However, I also like the sentence from Mr. Bowman, consequences are severe, risk of getting caught is high. And that is precisely to the type of issues that Veronica, you've been talking about, where the consequences have to be severe.

But we need this range. So again, in terms of boards, because boards aren't necessarily getting all the way down there, but what can they do to convey this?

WALLESTAD: Something that I would add to what's already been shared is just the fact that the stakes are higher, the higher up the organizational hierarchy you go. And so, that's from my perspective at least, because of additional power and the impact it has on culture.

So from the board vantage point, thinking in particular about CEO and allegations and instances of harassment by the CEO or tolerance for it within the organization, I think boards have to be really thoughtful about what that means in terms of the tone that it sets for accountability within the organization and whether or not they could ever feel comfortable with that CEO's judgment around what appropriate accountability is within the organization.

Layer on top of that, then, the dynamic that I've talked about already in terms of the board's lack of visibility, and I think that a board wants to be really, really careful about what it considers to be below a threshold of tolerance at the CEO level.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Yes.

VALLES: From a union perspective, this is exactly why, and this is a perfect moment to give workers a voice and to sit down with them, meaning what do they think about what that is. Many of our workers, they're not all Harvey Weinsteins or coworkers who are doing this to each other.

And so part of that is what do you do with somebody who's harassing and making jokes? You could have a zero tolerance. That doesn't mean that person immediately gets fired. That person might get one of the peer‑to‑peer training programs. It might get, if the survivor is okay with it or the victim's okay with it, being able to say, here was the impact of your words on me. I started pulling my hair out, it created so much anxiety. So that we could change the hearts and minds.

But then there is a difference between getting raped by force, that's a criminal activity in the workplace that shouldn't be happening and what their rights are, to being harassed in the workplace. So I guess that means, having zero tolerance doesn't mean everybody just gets fired, or death by Twitter, it means that there is a process and that it will not be swept under the rug, it will be dealt with and addressed with both sides, and with a conclusion.

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Totally. Totally. Ready to cede one minute and 15 seconds. I'll take it in my closing.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Oh my God, that never happens. Commissioner Burrows?

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: One thing that I wanted to make sure to ask Mr. Bowman, because I noticed in your testimony you had referred to companies who have begun waiving non‑disclosure agreements with respect of employees who report sexual harassment, and your testimony also mentions that some employers are eliminating the forced arbitration requirements in order to actually get the information because you could have, depending on what kind of NDA you've got, you could actually have a witness, not even somebody with experience harassment themselves, thinking maybe I'm not allowed to talk about that.

So I'd love to hear, first of all, if there are some employers that we should be aware of that are leading in this area, which employers those are, but also how it's improved workplace morale or other effects you've seen.

BOWMAN: I think it's really part of a broader topic, and that is the topic of transparency and the ability for people to have discussions and wrestle with some of these tough issues and to be able to bring issues to conclusion.

When we talk about some of the changes, there's a myriad of things that employers are really wrestling with. I think one of the greatest aspects of the MeToo movement is, often there's a suggestion that employers are just sitting quietly and are hiding, and are afraid. I think the truth is, there's a series of milestones since 1964 that repeatedly bring to the attention employers' need to do the right things.

Certainly the Ellerth and Faragher cases in 1998 and a series of cases that have come out, but the MeToo movement has really told us that we have to be better, not just because of a legal compliance issue but because of a, it's the right thing to do but it's also critically important to the effectiveness of our organizations.

There's unfortunately, perhaps, a selfish interest in how we do this. So I think the transparency issue, it's a sign of employers really looking for different ways to handle an investigation, different ways to remove barriers to people complaining. Different ways where people can complain anonymously, albeit with the recognition that anonymous complaints tend to be much more difficult to investigate statistically than complaints where we've identified the complaining party and we can ask more detailed questions and ask what happens.

It's an exploration. I would not say that in that testimony was more things that people are considering and evaluating and trying. I wouldn't say that it's a huge trend, by any means, but it's exciting to see people thinking out of the box.

One of the big issues that I shared with a friend just the other evening is how do we resolve investigations? So often what we do is we have this, we go back to the complaining party even after substantiating the complaint and we often will tell them, you know, thanks for letting us know about this. We did investigate it. We determined that there was perhaps some bad behavior, and we've taken sufficient precautions to ensure that that bad behavior won't happen again.

By many standards, most complaining parties that somehow summon the courage to complain to begin with, that's a little unsatisfying, to say the least. And so we're wrestling with how do we move from being a little more transparent, how do we even explore reward systems?

And in a similar way, to one of the comments that was made earlier, to which my experience is actually a little bit different, I find that there are many things that unions and management disagree on. The list is probably insurmountable.

But I have had engagements with clients where unions and management came together on the issue of civil rights, and shared a common interest where unions, where something that was initiated by a company, often encouraged by the EEOC perhaps, unions were right in the foxhole doing what was right for their members as companies were doing what was right for their employees. So I think there's actually a lot more synergy there than disagreements.

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you for that. It's useful to think about. It gives me some interesting ideas. I had a question, for Professor Gentile, did I pronounce that correctly, Gentile? One issue that I had is, I think that the GVV approach of really living values is so important.

One of the things that I am struggling with is as an employer, if I were in those shoes, really understanding okay, if I do this kind of approach on civility training, you really should probably be certain how it's going to land in terms of some of the examples are very, very effective, I think, if you have sort of incivility.

 But if you have more serious things, even if it's not widespread, and if it's widespread hopefully the employer will know, but if you are in a situation where you actually don't know, is there one person in there who has a much more severe situation, or several people. It could be difficult, right, so this idea of wait until you have two or three examples, that works well if someone's made an off‑color remark, not as well if there's a criminal behavior going on.

And so I just wonder if you could speak a little bit to how the employer in the first instance decides, am I at a point, so maybe you could do both, I'm interested in that too, am I at a point where this civility training with this group of employees is going to land in in a way that they're receptive to it, as opposed to making people who have experienced very severe things, no, I don't want to sit down and have a conversation with the harasser about why I'm offended by XYZ.

GENTILE: Right. It's a great question. I think there's a couple different ways to approach that question. The first way is what I was talking about earlier, which is that a lot of what we're trying to do with GVV is actually nip those kinds of behaviors in the bud. Something that a few people have talked about, that not everything is at that high level.

But there are times when things are at that level. I think that's what you're asking about. One of the things that we've begun to learn with GVV is that it can be really important to use the same methodology with the executives or the managers to whom someone is bringing a charge. And it may be a serious charge then.

And then it gets to the kinds of issues that Mr. Bowman was talking about a minute ago in terms of, how do you communicate effectively with  that individual, not just so that they feel good but you know whatever you say to that individual, because we do know reporting doesn't happen as often as we'd like it too, whatever you say to that person who does report is going to spread, and it's going to have an impact on whether other people will report and whether they will report in a timely and in an effective way.

One of the things that we do with GVV is say, this is not just training for the lower‑level employees who need to be empowered to raise these issues. Yes, it should be that but this is also a training for the senior‑level executives and even a board in terms of how do you respond to these issues, what do you say, how do you communicate, and what we've found is that when we do that conversation, what comes out are all the inhibitors that are making it difficult for those senior leaders to often take these charges as seriously as they should.

What we end up having them do is use the same post‑decision making methodology to talk about, how do you talk to your senior peers? The other C‑suite executives about these kinds of issues in a way that you can maintain your working relationship with them and in fact you can raise this issue to a level that is that important.

I think in the kind of instance you're talking about, a lot of it is training for the person to whom the issue is raised.

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you. That's very helpful. I think the last question I would have is really how we make it stick at the level, so hopefully the board has followed Ms. Wallestad's advice and gotten the CEO to act, and maybe the CEO has talked to Mr. Bowman and they're ready to go, how do you make it stick institutionally? If you all had one recommendation, right, because we all know that there's one CEO and there's a whole bunch of other people, particularly those first‑line supervisors who are really setting the tone.

I'd like to very quickly, I don't have much time, but if there's any last thought that you have, either for bystander training or other issues that you think we haven't covered today, where it would really be effective and we should be thinking about as a commission, I'd love to hear it.

Or maybe we've picked everything.

(Laughter.)

PORATH: I think generally I can comment on that. It's been said before, but I think having those norms in place so that there's an understanding and awareness of expectations, of appropriate behavior, whether that's in my case, civility in standards of respect, I think providing training or again, a sense of awareness across employees, so that they are able to call each other out, they are able to report appropriately when that's necessary.

I think also, ideally, following it up, pre‑ and post, with some kind of culture survey around where are we at and where do we want to go? How are we doing in terms of, for example, civility, bullying, harassment. What's that look like? And also, are the interventions working?

We're just launching a study where we look and that and see are there differences for people that have gone through in‑person, live training, a couple hours worth, versus those that have not gotten that exposure. And what does that look like as their actions spread in their networks at work.

And being able to tweak accordingly. What's missing, for example. Is the bystander piece not sticking for people, and providing more practice for example in that.

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Out of time, unless there's -- I'd love to hear more.

GENTILE: I would just like to add one other piece, which is one thing that we've noticed is effective is if you're in a meeting, if you're in a conversation, if you're the manager, whatever the situation, to rather than always framing it as these are behaviors that we want to avoid, say what if we wanted to do X, and to have that become a habitual way of problem‑solving within the organization.

What if we wanted to maintain the level of quality and productivity in this group, but we wanted to make sure that people were all contributing at a high level, so we found flipping it around like that is effective.

And the second thing we found is really effective is if leaders will tell what we call "learning stories" where they share with their employees a time when they themselves encountered this kind of a challenge, talk about the struggle they went through and then how they resolved it.

Because when leaders will do this, it sends a huge message in terms of people believing that it's a safe place to talk about it and also, as a teaching tool. We've actually worked with companies where they videotaped those messages and shared them widely. They need a little coaching in terms of how to tell the story in a way that is effective, but that can be powerful.VALLES: So just shifting from this moment, from liability and compliance only to culture change and investing and allocating resources to work with professional organizations that believe in investing in employees and not just from the top to the bottom but actually from the bottom up.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: At this time we will have an opportunity for closing statements from each commissioner and I won't hold you to the time amount since you have an extra minute to go anyway. So I will go first.

First of all, I sincerely want to thank all of our panelists who have traveled here today to share your insights and your recommendations about the importance of leadership and accountability. We've had a lot of talk about training that has to be tailored to the needs of a particular workforce.

These are all critical components to changing workplace cultures to ones that do not tolerate harassing conduct. Organizations need to be open to taking a close look at their cultures and to recognize when and how it needs to be revamped to effectively prevent harassment.

One of the things that I have said over and over again over the past, almost two years now, since Commissioner Feldblum and I have been talking so much about the work of the task force and harassment, and all of us on this panel have spent many hours over the past year doing multiple presentations, that organizations need to own their cultures down to the individual workplace level.

So you can have great policies in place and you can have great procedures in place, and they can look wonderful, but you've got to get it down to that individual workplace because as we all know, organizations have multiple workplaces and they need to be focused on where their people go to work and what the situations are that they find themselves in.

Today's meeting builds on the roadmap we outlined in our co‑chairs' report two years ago which, a shameless plug, is available on the EEOC's website. I actually have a copy with me. I never leave home without it at this point, and whether large employers, small employers, private, public, non‑profit, there are a lot of valuable resources that the EEOC had available to begin the effort of what assessing and revamping workplace cultures needs to look like.

I do want to emphasize that these efforts must be broad enough and targeted enough to prevent harassment. As both my colleagues have said, not just on the basis of sex but on all bases and for workers in all types of jobs, in all kinds of workplaces and in all kinds of industries. And to also stress that the commitment to respectful workplaces must live throughout an organization from the rank and file to management, to executives, and to the board.

We've had a lot of discussion today about efforts with unions and working with unions, I do want to remind everyone that we are the EEOC and the National Labor Relations Board is further, in a different location, but we certainly have engaged with some of our colleagues and will continue to do so at the NLRB.

One of the things that is certainly, has become apparent to me over the past year in all of this discussion, and certainly from all of your testimony today, is that we are all still learning. We are all still wrestling with what are the right and correct responses, and how to address what we certainly know and what has certainly been revealed even more so over the past year about harassment in our workplaces.

But this has to be a sustained effort. If it is not a sustained effort, then 20 years from now the next head of the EEOC and the next group of commissioners will be sitting here again when the culture, our culture, wakes up again to the problem of harassment in our workplaces. So I do hope that we all seize this moment. I commend the efforts of all of our panelists and I know of many people in this room who are working on this critical issue so that we all have the opportunity to go to work, be productive, and not have to put up with this kind of conduct.

So thank you so much to our witnesses for being with us today. Commissioner Feldblum?

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: Thank you. Also, if you want the report, it's so out there that you can just type into Google "EEOC Harassment Task Force," it will take you right there. Mama Google is right out there.

I also want to thank C‑Span, both the organization that chose to cover this and our hard‑working C‑Span staff here, because the important thing is to get this information out. I personally will be posting the link on my Facebook page, I'll be tweeting it out at my @chaifeldblum twitter handle, and on LinkedIn, and I accept all requests on LinkedIn, so link with me.

And here's why. If you would ask me what the biggest roadblock would have been when we issued our report in June 2016 in getting our recommendations adopted, I would have said getting the country's attention. Well, I'd say post‑Weinstein, post any number of other people, we have the country's attention.

The question is, what are we going to do now? Are employers going to do more of the same or are they going to do something different? Is it just going to be more of the same training and policies that are very legalistic, or will it be something different?

Will it be holistic? Will it be civility training? And I actually want to acknowledge that the National Labor Relations Board has put out information that makes it clear that employers can have a civility code, so long as it's not applied in a way that's going to suppress union activity. But I think if employers are going to do something different, they have to demonstrate their seriousness about addressing this issue and they must be transparent.

Seriousness means if they're going to use the term zero tolerance, which we have issue with because it makes it sound that everyone will get fired for any misconduct, that they communicate that there will be no tolerance for any type of misconduct. Any type of unwelcome behavior, no matter how low level. That's communicating seriousness.

Transparency means that they tell someone how the investigation will work, what they will be told at the end of the investigation and I don't think it's very helpful for someone who has gotten the courage to come forward to be told at the end, we did an investigation and we dealt with it appropriately. Which when I talk to HR people, that's what they're all trained to do. We need to challenge that assumption.

I know it's hard to convey the corrective action, but let's put our heads together and think about how we can make that work.

So basically, I want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone in this room, everyone watching, who can now potentially commit to being part of the solution. I want to thank my staff, Sharon Masling and Beth Frank, who are sitting behind me.

Sharon, who has worked for me for over seven years and has really been a right‑hand person, I'm sure you will thank your staff but I want to specifically note my appreciation for Cathy Ventrell-Monsees who, with Sharon, co‑chair HPAT, Harassment Prevention Action Team that Acting Chair Lipnic created, and finally, and very importantly, I want to thank my colleague, my friend, my partner in making change in over eight years, Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic.

We served together as commissioners. I will let you know just in case this sounds like a goodbye speech, it's not. I am planning to serve out any term I am confirmed to, and I look forward to working with Acting Chair Lipnic, Commissioner Burrows, and to the new commissioners and chair that will fill us out as a full commission.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Commissioner Burrows.

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Thank you. I want to add my thanks as well for noticing this hearing, for holding it and also to your staff. I am deeply appreciative for all the work that you have both been doing. Both my colleagues here have been really laboring in the vineyards on this issue and helped us to be so far ahead of the curve, when, again, I think I heard a few chuckles when Commissioner Feldblum said well, we didn't think anyone would take seriously that this was a big deal.

But that was true. We were worried that we wouldn't get your attention. So at least we're beyond that. I appreciate all of that and the partnership with both of your offices.

I'd also like to thank the witnesses for their time, again. This has been extremely helpful, and I know how difficult it is and how much time it takes to prepare testimony, particularly testimony that's so thoughtful. So I am very grateful for that.

I will say that I am hopeful that we can broaden and deepen the conversation here at the Commission so that we continue to look at these issues but in a way that allows us to, while we understand the common threads, to right‑size the solutions so that we are really looking at each workplace. Because I have, in the process of the rest of America sort of catching up to where EEOC has been, been talking to employers from major banking institutions to the tech world to individuals who are working in construction and farm working and very, very different employers.

In some cases while the problem is the same and some of the risk factors that are laid out so well in the report are clear, across the board we really do need to dig a little deeper and look at the different ways that this plays out. For instance, we have some, we've had some problems where employers were in name having a training that was useful or had a policy, but they didn't give it to their temp workers. Or it wasn't in a language that their workers could understand.

And so there are various things that, depending on the population and the kind of employer, are more or less difficult that you might not see in some employers. So I think it would be useful, I particularly, as you can probably tell by now, am interested in partnering with the construction industry to look at some of the issues that they have had. I will tell you that the large number of cases that we have involve physical violence in addition to all the other kinds of things that one thinks about when you think about the issue of harassment.

There are other industries as well where I think it would be useful, because I know that there are employers that want to attack this problem and solve it that we can partner with across various industries, and so I'm hopeful that as we go forward that the Commission can start to look at this in a more specific way so that we can deal with some of the knotty issues and specific barriers that are making this so difficult.

So we've laid a foundation, you guys have been a big part of that, and thank you very much. I will yield back the time that I have stolen from the chair.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: No worries. Thank you, both Commissioner Feldblum and Commissioner Burrows for those remarks, and I do want to thank my staff in the chair's office, particularly Cathy Ventrell-Monsees and Sharon Masling on Commissioner Feldblum's staff, we just sort of think of it as all being one big staff, for putting this hearing together today.

And I want to thank all of the employees of the EEOC for this past year who really have stepped up on this issue, one that they have been concerned about and cared about for many, many years, but really have done a lot of work over this past year.

One other thing I wanted to mention, I said at the beginning in my opening statement that what our data from this year shows but I would also urge you to take a look at, on our website we have, where we have our data about harassment cases, we also have a link to all the cases we filed over the past year.

So the numbers tell one story, and the stories tell the real story. I would urge you to take a look at those things.

A little bit of business before we close. I will note that the Commission will hold the meeting record open for 15 days, and we invite members of the public to submit written comments on any issues or matters discussed at this meeting. Those comments may be mailed to:

Commission Meeting
EEOC Executive Officer
131 M Street NE
Washington D.C. 20507

or emailed to commissionmeetingcomments@eeoc.gov.

All comments will be made available to members of the commission and to the commission staff working on matters discussed at the meeting.

In addition, comments may be disclosed to the public and by providing comments and response to the solicitation, you are consenting to their use and consideration by the commission and to their public dissemination. Accordingly, please do not include any information in submitted comments that you would not want made public, such as your home address, telephone number, etc.

Also note that when comments are submitted by email, the sender's email address automatically appears on the message.

I would like to once again thank all of you for your participation in today's meeting. You've brought valuable insights into our discussion today and we greatly appreciate the time and effort it has taken to be a part of this meeting.

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: Madam Chair, before we close, and I so apologize, I have had a long morning and forgot to thank my own staff, so I want to do that, and particularly Laura Feldman who, this is her very first commission meeting and I am so grateful that she is here and has spent many long hours as well as Davis Kim and Lexer Mayers in my office and of course Kingsley Floyd. Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: As you can all tell, all of us are only as good as our staff. So, is there a motion to adjourn?

COMMISSIONER BURROWS: I move to adjourn.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Is there a second?

COMMISSIONER FELDBLUM: I second.

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: All in favor?

(Chorus of aye.)

ACTING CHAIR LIPNIC: Opposed?

(No response.)

Thank you, the meeting is adjourned.

(Whereupon the above‑entitled matter went off the record at 12:32 P.M.)