Fewer FEMA Employees Experienced Workplace Harassment or Discrimination in 2021 than 2019; More Progress Needed
Aug 24, 2022
This report presents results of a follow-up survey of Federal Emergency Management Agency employees on workplace harassment and discrimination, employee reporting experiences, and workplace climate. About one in five employees experienced at least one gender-based/sexual or race/ethnicity–based civil rights violation in the year preceding the survey, a substantial decline from 2019 levels.
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In 2019, researchers from the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC) fielded a survey to estimate the annual prevalence of workplace harassment and discrimination at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and assess employee perceptions of leadership and workplace climate. The survey results revealed areas in need of improvement and helped guide FEMA leadership decisions about programming and policy responses. With the results in hand, FEMA published its "Culture Improvement Action Plan," laying out objectives, programs, and actions intended to create a safe workplace for all employees.
To understand whether this objective had been achieved, FEMA asked HSOAC researchers to repeat the workforce survey two years after the first survey had been administered. The survey was repeated in the spring of 2021, with results indicating a substantial reduction from 2019 of harassment and discrimination in the workplace, albeit still a high prevalence. This report presents the survey results and a discussion about how changes in the workplace during the response period might have influenced the findings. An annex to this report contains detailed tabular data of survey results and the complete survey instrument.
The survey was designed to provide an independent and objective assessment of the prevalence and characteristics of harassment and discrimination at FEMA, whether or not victims chose to elevate incidents to FEMA leadership, and employee perspectives on workplace climate.
Survey Design and Analytic Approach
Overall Prevalence of Gender-Based/Sexual and Racial/Ethnic Civil Rights Violations and Additional Analyses
Prevalence of Gender-Based/Sexual Civil Rights Violations in the Year Preceding the Survey
Characteristics of Gender-Based/Sexual Civil Rights Violations
Prevalence of Racial/Ethnic Civil Rights Violations.
Characteristics of Racial/Ethnic Civil Rights Violations
Reporting Decisions, Perceived Organizational Response to Reports, and Barriers to Reporting
The FEMA Climate
Conclusions and Recommendations
HSOAC is a federally funded research and development center operated by the RAND Corporation under contract with DHS.