Improving FEMA culture is our shared responsibility. FEMA will continue to work toward delivery of a workplace where each employee feels valued and can meet the mission to the best of their ability without fear and in an environment free of harassment and misconduct. This is fundamental to living our core values now and in the future.
We have worked hard since July 2018 to institute programs and improve policies to improve our work environment, including:
- Establishing an Office of Professional Responsibility.
- Providing mandatory training sessions.
- Offering counseling services.
FEMA leaders are committed to improving workforce culture and climate, and will remain dedicated to long-term, transparent communication with employees.
In 2020, FEMA delivered on a first step to addressing its organizational health with the publication of the "Culture Improvement Action Plan." In June 2021, FEMA released the second edition of the plan, featuring updates and changes to emphasize the agency's priorities and values and new associated implementation timelines.
RAND Corporation's Workplace Survey/ Discrimination and Harassment Report
In the spring of 2019, FEMA hired a third-party organization, RAND Corporation, to conduct an employee survey on workplace harassment and discrimination. The survey was initiated as a response to an internal investigation that found disturbing evidence of misconduct within FEMA senior leadership ranks.
Read the Full 2019 RAND Report
RAND Research Brief
The survey focused on the timeframe of spring 2018 through spring 2019 and ultimately found a number of FEMA employees reported experiencing civil rights violations on the basis of sex, race or ethnicity, and female employees reported experiencing a less positive experience in the workplace than their male counterparts. The report also identified that:
- Employees felt a gap in trust with agency senior leaders.
- Employees felt barriers to reporting civil rights violations existed.
- Employees who did report violations or misconduct felt they experienced retaliation.
RAND issued a follow up survey in 2021. This survey showed 21% of FEMA employees were categorized as experiencing a gender-based or sexual or race/ethnicity-based civil rights violation in the preceding year, which represents a 28% decrease in the prevalence of staff reporting gender-based, sexual, or race/ethnicity-based harassment compared to the 2019 study.
Though encouraged by these results, we understand that significant, tangible change is still needed.
Read the Full 2021 Rand Report
We know our work is not nearly done. Our "Culture Improvement Action Plan" addresses recommendations from the RAND report on discrimination and harassment and outlines six areas of focus that agency-wide actions will emphasize and advance in the next 12 months. This Action Plan continues to build on agency accomplishments and achievements since the first reports of harassment and misconduct.
Office of Professional Responsibility