The University of Michigan is committed to creating and sustaining a safe, harassment-free working and learning environment for all; providing an environment where harassment and misconduct is unacceptable, and all are treated with dignity and respect, no matter what role they fill within the organization.
As a leader, one of your most important responsibilities is to be a steward of U-M’s desired culture. You are pivotal in ensuring that U-M employees work in an environment that allows them to succeed in their work-life by bringing their complete skills to work, without the fear of sexual harassment.
As an institution, U-M has a responsibility to equip supervisors/managers with the proper tools, information, and support in order to model and sustain a respectful community for all.
U-M currently has interlacing policies and processes related to reporting of possible sexual harassment and misconduct. These policies are under review to integrate and streamline them to maximize their alignment and clarity.
In the interim, we wanted to acquaint you with our current guidance on how you can best fulfill your role as a supervisor/manager if you learn of a harassment concern relating to a staff or faculty member.
In 2019, the university introduced a new sexual harassment educational module "Creating a Culture of Respect: Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Awareness." This training is required for all faculty and staff on all U-M campuses.
Your Responsibilities as a Manager or Supervisor
It is critical that you understand your current responsibilities as a leader so that you can respond appropriately if an employee initiates a discussion about sexual harassment.
These responsibilities include:
- All supervisors, regardless of how many employees they supervise, including student employees and GSI’s, must respond appropriately when they learn of allegations of workplace harassment or discrimination from employees or about employees. Supervisors are obligated to report these matters to the Office for Institutional Equity.
- This means that your conversation with your faculty/staff member cannot be confidential, and you should inform them of this fact should the question arise. You can explain that you take their concerns seriously, the goal is to stop the behavior, and the most effective way to do that is to report their concerns so that the matter may be reviewed. You can also let them know that they have options with respect to what happens next, and they will always be able to choose whether they want to participate in any next steps that may be necessary.
- A list of confidential resources for discussing sexual harassment incidents with the staff/faculty member is available. These resources can help an employee understand their options for moving forward and provide support in that process should they choose to make a report.
Be sure that your staff/faculty member knows that only the resources you share with them are confidential for this topic. Human Resources and OIE will address all concerns that are brought to them.
If, after providing this information, your staff/faculty member still wishes to share their information with you, let them know that you will partner with them to support the required reporting process that is in place. If the behavior was of a sexual nature, or based on another protected class, consult with the Office for Institutional Equity. An investigator who is specially trained to handle these situations can determine if a formal complaint should be filed.
If the behavior was not sexual in nature or otherwise based on a protected class but is behavior not conducive to a healthy working environment (e.g., insulting someone, harshly criticizing someone, or offensive joking), consult with HR and consider the following:
- Determine if the individual is aware that the behavior is inappropriate
- Have a conversation with the person who engaged in the inappropriate behaviors
- Inform him/her that the behavior is making others uncomfortable
- Do not mention names to avoid singling out someone for retaliation
If you have any doubt about the behavior, always contact OIE for help.
Whether your staff/faculty member decides to share their information with you or not, thank them for coming forward and express how much you appreciate the trust they exhibited in approaching you. Reiterate your commitment to maintaining a workplace environment where all can flourish and that you welcome their feedback about any actions that can be taken to improve the workplace culture (in more general terms).
Learning and Development Opportunities for Your Team
Based upon the particulars of your work environment, you may consider some learning and development opportunities for your team. Please contact Organizational Learning for more information and guidance.
There is a a different set of obligations specific to allegations of harassment or sexual misconduct regarding students. Please contact the Office of Institutional Equity for guidance on this.