CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A university investigation into the work environment within Facilities & Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found a series of deficiencies within the unit of more than 1,000 employees but not systemic discriminatory employment practices and work environments.
The report from Eric Smith, an assistant vice president for equal opportunity and human resources, noted that the investigation identified two employees who experienced illegal discriminatory or harassing activity. Smith joined with F&S staff to immediately address those situations through appropriate channels.
Investigators invited all F&S employees to a confidential, in-person interview to discuss work environment issues raised by several employees in 2015, including allegations of discrimination and harassment. A total of 504 employees – representing each division of F&S and amounting to 46.6 percent of the F&S workforce – participated in interviews from Jan. 6 through Sept. 29 in 2016.
“It was important to look into these allegations in a sensitive, thorough and professional manner, and that’s exactly what took place over hundreds of hours of interviews,” said Chancellor Robert Jones, who joined the campus Sept. 26. “We may choose to take solace in the relatively few number of complaints that pointed to what appears to be discriminatory behavior, but the fact that a number of other employees expressed concerns about the workplace tells us that we have a considerable amount of work to do in order to live up to our standards.
“It’s sometimes painful to look in the mirror, but as a result, we have a solid framework of action to address the issues raised by our employees. Our commitment is firm and our will is resolute.”
Among the final report’s eight recommendations are:
- Establish a training program for F&S including new employee orientation, supervisor training and leadership training.
- Clarify current policies related to hiring and promotions.
- Promote a respectful work environment at F&S where individuals feel valued and their contributions matter.
F&S provides all physical plant, operational and other essential services on campus.