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Statement of Andy Brantley, President and CEO, College & University Professional Association for Human Resources

Industry Leaders Roundtable Discussion on Harassment Prevention
March 20, 2019

Good morning, Chair Lipnic and Commissioner Burrows. Thank you for convening this roundtable and inviting me to participate. I am Andy Brantley, president and chief executive officer of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, known as CUPA-HR. Prior to joining CUPA-HR, I was associate vice president and chief human resources officer for the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia. Before my arrival at UGA in January 2001, I served as the assistant vice president for business administration and director of human resources at Davidson College, a private college in Davidson, North Carolina.

CUPA-HR serves as the voice of human resources (HR) in higher education, representing more than 31,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 2,000 colleges and universities across the country, including 93 percent of all U.S. doctoral institutions, 78 percent of all master's institutions, 53 percent of all bachelor's institutions and 500+ two-year and specialized institutions. Higher education employs more than 3.9 million workers nationwide, with colleges and universities in all 50 states.

Nearly all of CUPA-HR's members have some responsibility for compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act and similar state laws prohibiting sex discrimination in employment. In addition, approximately 50 percent of our membership has reporting and compliance responsibilities under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The primary driver behind our members' efforts to ensure equal opportunity in employment and education, however, is not legal responsibilities, but rather their unwavering commitment to diversity, inclusion, access and equitable practices as a means to achieve excellence in higher education. We are pleased to join the many industries represented at this roundtable to discuss this critical issue.

While helping members build diverse and inclusive workplaces has long been a focus of CUPA-HR, the well-publicized incidents of employment-related sexual harassment and assault that have come to light in the last few years made clear to us that we can and must do more. For CUPA-HR, this has meant leveraging access to the 30,000 higher education HR professionals in our membership to harness their expertise, bring greater attention to the problem of sexual harassment and provide additional education on harassment prevention. We have done so by increasing direct member engagement to better identify the challenges and successes our members have faced in fighting sex discrimination. We have leveraged what we learned via this engagement by making qualitative changes to and significantly increasing the number of member communications, resources and professional educational opportunities on this issue. We also employ this expertise to engage policy makers in an effort to improve applicable laws and regulations.

To be effective and impactful as an association, we must strive to understand the key challenges faced by our member organizations and the actions they are taking to address these challenges. We must also move quickly to create and curate programs, resources and best practices to help our members meet these challenges.

In January 2018, I wrote a blog post titled, "Strategies for Eliminating Sexual Harassment in Higher Education (and It's Not Simply More Training)." In that post, I emphasized that we cannot simply "train away" harassment. Training and heightening awareness will always be important, but we must be committed to creating and sustaining workplace cultures that do not tolerate harassment in any way, shape or form. Many employers regularly check the training compliance box, but as we have seen played out across the country, checking this box is not enough stop these egregious behaviors. In this blog post, I also emphasized that a precondition of successfully combating harassment is ensuring that the campus environment is one where women can and do have leadership roles.

On April 19, 2018, Lynn A. Clements, Esq., director of regulatory affairs at Berkshire Associates Inc., led our highest-attended webinar of the year (with more than 900 participants) on the topic of sexual harassment and pay equity claims in higher education. Before beginning her work at Berkshire, Clements was acting director/deputy director of the policy division of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and policy advisor at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In the webinar, Clements recommended that higher education HR leaders:

  • Evaluate vulnerable work environments and risky employment practices
  • Audit and update harassment policies
  • Review confidentiality and mandatory arbitration provisions of employment agreements
  • Conduct effective anti-harassment messaging and training
  • Revamp investigative procedures to address contemporary issues and ensure accountability

In July 2018, the chair of CUPA-HR's national board of directors led the board through an activity to identify current campus challenges related to sexual harassment and assault, and examples of programs and resources used to create a more inclusive campus culture. We facilitated a similar activity with our four region boards. What we discovered from our work with association leaders include the following:

  • The increased willingness of people to speak out has led to a reassessment of the processes for addressing harassment at higher education institutions. Many campuses have also increased the number of employees who are able to quickly and professionally manage the review process.
  • There is much more pressure from leaders, employees, students and parents to quickly resolve claims of harassment and assault. As we all know, due process is required and cannot always occur as quickly as everyone (including the investigators) would like.
  • Students and employees are becoming more vocal, including the use of social media, when there is no finding or a finding that is different that the outcome they wanted or expected. They are using social media to challenge the process and the outcomes.

During those same activities with our national and region boards, we asked them to share important actions being taken on their campuses to address these and other challenges. Their responses included the following:

  • Using two investigators (typically male and female) to address claims of harassment or assault.
  • More clearly defining what is a Title VII harassment claim and what is a Title IX claim.
  • More frequent use of law firms and other external investigators to investigate claims to help ensure an unbiased and timely review.
  • Weekly meetings of human resources, public safety and those in offices charged with handling claims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
  • Title IX office leaders spending more time proactively engaging with students and other campus leaders outside of their compliance and investigative responsibilities.
  • Heightening awareness of bystander intervention and reporting responsibilities for all employees.

As mentioned above, we also leverage our members' expertise to provide input to policy makers on possible improvements to laws and regulations. In this regard, we would like to highlight one issue - greater coordination among federal agencies and to the extent possible state and local agencies. Higher education institutions are unique employers in that we are responsible for Title VII and Title IX compliance and many of our members are federal government contractors and/or grant recipients. The number and appalling nature of the recent high-profile incidents of sexual harassment and assault has federal, state and local government agencies investigating what steps they can and should take to better address the issue. We strongly encourage the EEOC to work closely with these other agencies to help ensure consistency and streamline reporting obligations in an effort to avoid unnecessary conflicts, overlap, confusion and undue burdens.

For example, we urge the EEOC to work with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health to ensure that these and similar agencies do not create differing definitions of harassment as part of grantees' reporting obligations. NSF recently changed its reporting obligations, and CUPA-HR provided input, but EEOC coordination would have also been helpful. Similarly, we urge the Commission to work with the Department of Education on how to address circumstances where Title IX and Title VII may overlap and provide guidance on how higher education employers can best navigate these situations. The Department is currently revisiting its Title IX guidance, and we provided comments suggesting they work with the EEOC on this matter. Attached is a copy of those comments.

I have attached a list of resources CUPA-HR provides to members on harassment as an appendix to this testimony. As evidenced by the list, we take very seriously our responsibility to provide communications, resources and programs to help higher education leaders create a more inclusive higher education community and address sexual harassment and assault on campus. We have also redoubled our efforts on member resources and education, updating and increasing the number of web pages and community forums, online toolkits, webinars and virtual workshops and conference sessions focused on harassment prevention.

As noted at the beginning of my testimony, we must be committed to creating and sustaining workplace cultures that do not tolerate harassment in any way, shape or form. As demonstrated by the work of our leaders, the work of our staff, and my presence here today, CUPA-HR is committed to not only providing resources to address these challenges, but also to helping higher education institutions create and sustain a diverse, inclusive culture where harassment does not occur.

Thank you again for the opportunity to participate in this roundtable.




Recent Leader Engagement

  • July 2018 meeting of the national board of directors included a segment focused on how the #MeToo movement shapes our work as higher education HR leaders
    • Outcomes of this discussion used to shape programs and services
  • September 2018 meetings with our four region boards included a segment focused on how the #MeToo movement shapes our work as higher education HR leaders
    • Outcomes of this discussion used to shape programs and services


Recent Webinars

  • October 11, 2017: Facing the Challenges of DOE's Recent Title IX Interim Guidance (public: event recording and supplemental materials are available on the CUPA-HR website)
  • April 4, 2017: The Intersection of the Clery Act (VAWA) and Title IX: Implications for Sexual Misconduct Complaints and Institutional Response (public: event recording and supplemental materials are available on the CUPA-HR website)
  • Quarterly Washington Updates With CUPA-HR's Government Relations Team (these events mention critical issues, such as Title VII, VAWA and Title IX, as they arise and are for CUPA-HR members only)
  • April 19, 2018: How the #MeToo and Pay Equity Movements Impact Higher Education - And What to Do About It. This session was led by Lynn A. Clements, Esq., director of regulatory affairs at Berkshire Associates Inc. Before beginning her work at Berkshire, she was acting director/deputy director of the policy division of OFCCP and policy advisor at the EEOC. More than 900 higher education leaders participated in this webinar. (public: event recording and supplemental materials are available on the CUPA-HR website)

E-Learning Courses

Virtual Workshops

  • Hosted a Title IX virtual workshop, "Tips, Tools and Expert Advice for Title IX Coordinators" on May 12, 2016

Annual Conferences

  • Every CUPA-HR annual conference includes a full-day workshop and a track throughout the conference focused on creating and sustaining a more diverse, inclusive campus community
  • In 2017, CUPA-HR hosted two half-day workshops, "Institution Responses to Sexual Misconduct Complaints: Title IX, Clery and the HR Professional"
  • Annual conference concurrent programming: Over the past several years, we've invited higher ed HR professionals to present on Title VII, Title IX and Clery. Some examples:
    • Title IX and VAWA 101: Everything HR Should Know, But Is Afraid to Ask
    • Building Powerful Partnerships: Title IX, Faculty and Advocates
    • Retaliation Claims: Recent Developments and How to Respond

2019 Spring Learning Events

  • Spring learning events in Washington, DC and Seattle, WA will include sessions led by region leaders focused on how the #MeToo movement has created a call to action on campus

Recent Communications

  • The Higher Education Workplace Magazine
    • A Thoughtful Approach: How to Conduct Impactful, Engaging In-Person Sexual Harassment Training (January 2018)
    • Courts and EEOC Take a Fresh Look at Title VII as It Applies to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination (May 2018)
    • That Could Never Happen Here: Compliance and Safety Imperatives for Today's College Campus (September 2018)
    • A Blueprint for Conducting a Fair, Legal, Comprehensive Internal Civil Rights Investigation (September 2018)
    • A Practical Approach to Mitigating Risk Related to Workplace Harassment and Pay Equity (September 2018)

 Recent Research