Senior Executives Association Releases Position Statement on Sexual Harassment Prevention

WASHINGTON, DC – The Senior Executives Association (SEA) Board of Directors has approved a Position Statement on Sexual Harassment Prevention that highlights the importance of senior leadership taking immediate steps to address all allegations of sexual harassment and developing government-wide policies that ensure accountability standards are consistent and transparent.

“One of the recurring themes in sexual harassment cases is the failure of those in positions of power to act---to take prompt and effective action to stop the harassment and protect the victim,” the Statement  says. “SEA members, because of their leadership positions, play a critical role ensuring that Federal agencies provide safe workplaces free of gender harassment, unwanted sexual attention, and sexual coercion.”

SEA President Bill Valdez said that the SEA Board of Directors created the Task Force in January 2018 in response to heightened awareness of the importance of sexual harassment prevention throughout society created by the #MeToo movement. In March 2018, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) published a study on sexual harassment in the Executive Branch that found despite lower rates of reports, sexual harassment “continues to be a problem for both Federal employees and Federal agencies.”

A key element of the SEA Position Statement is a call for “a prompt and thorough inquiry of the allegations” that affords all parties – the victim, the alleged harasser, and witnesses – all rights and available assistance under the law, including an equitable administration of justice, to include due process rights and freedom from the threat of retaliation or reprisal.

“Agency adjudication processes for the investigation and resolution of sexual harassment allegations are uneven at best,” Valdez said. “SEA will be following this Position Statement up with discussions with MSPB, the Office Personnel Management, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Congress to better address these issues.”

As the Statement notes: Because sexual harassment irreparably harms the public interest, a government-wide response is essential. As a first step, SEA proposes that the Office of Personnel Management initiate a review of accountability protocols across government.   It is imperative that when sexual harassment is substantiated, accountability standards in the Executive Branch are consistent and transparent.”