New Research Examines Organizational Efforts to Protect Employees from Violence, Bullying Discrimination and Harassment

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(Arlington, VA) – The latest preliminary report developed from the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Fundraising Workplace Climate Survey, conducted in partnership with The Ohio State University (OSU), found that larger charities are more likely to have enacted policies related to violence, bullying and harassment, but employees in smaller organizations feel more confident that charges of discrimination or harassment will be handled in a fair and just manner. 

The latest report, Organizational Efforts to Protect Employees and Prevent Workplace Violence, Bullying and Harassment, is the third of three reports derived from the Fundraising Workplace Climate Survey, a joint initiative between AFP and researchers at The Ohio State University. The first report focused on sexual harassment, sexual coercion and harassment training in the workplace, while the second report examined perceptions of organizational equity, recruiting a diverse workforce and promoting staff who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC).

This third report focuses on perceptions of organizational efforts to protect employees and prevent workplace violence, bullying, discrimination and harassment. These preliminary descriptive results are important because research suggests that organizations may have different levels of commitment and capacity to protect employees and implement measures to prevent discrimination and harassment.

The report looked at workplace violence, bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment and asked three main types of questions:

•    Did your organization take sufficient steps to prevent those four issues over the past two years?
•    Did your organization have a policy in place regarding these four issues over the past two years? 
•    Do you believe that situations involving discrimination and harassment at your organization would be resolved in a fair and just manner and that management would take appropriate action?  

Responses were broken down by staff size of the organization. Approximately 35% of respondents worked at organizations with 15 staff or less; 14% worked at organizations with 16 – 30 staff; 21% worked at organizations with 31 – 100 staff; and 30% worked at organizations with over 100 staff.

“While the responses by staff size didn’t vary dramatically, some trends emerged across the data,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “The more staff an organization had, the more likely it was to have a policy about workplace violence, bullying, discrimination or harassment. We can likely attribute that trend to larger organizations having more staff working in areas like diversity and human resources and, in turn, having formalized policies in place.”

At the same time, respondents at smaller organizations were more likely to agree or strongly agree that their organizations would handle incidents of this kind appropriately and justly and that their organizations had taken sufficient steps over the past two years to prevent workplace violence, bullying, discrimination and harassment. “That’s likely due to staff at smaller charities knowing everyone and having stronger connections, leading to greater confidence in their organizations to handle situations fairly,” continued Geiger.

Of the four key areas asked about—violence, bullying, discrimination and harassment—bullying was the issue where organizations need to increase their efforts. Roughly 80% of respondents agreed that their organization took sufficient steps to prevent instances of workplace violence, discrimination or harassment. In contrast, just 70% of respondents felt that way about their organization and instances of bullying. 

Responses differed significantly depending on the identity of the perpetrator in instances of harassment or discrimination. When asked specifically if management would take appropriate action against an employee, almost two-thirds of respondents agreed or strongly agreed. However, if the offender was an external stakeholder (donor, board member, foundation leader, client, volunteer, etc.) who supported the organization, just 50% of respondents felt management would respond appropriately. In both cases, respondents at smaller organizations agreed more strongly that their organization would take appropriate action compared to those working at larger organizations.
“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the AFP on this important research that sheds light on some of the workplace climate issues faced by fundraisers across organizations,” said Erynn Beaton, Ph.D., and Megan LePere-Schloop, Ph.D., the researchers at The Ohio State University who conducted the survey. The descriptive results presented in our preliminary reports are an important step, and we are happy to be working with AFP to compile these findings into a comprehensive report, which can serve as a baseline for future research. Moving forward, we’ll be further analyzing the data to understand which efforts are having a positive effect on workplace harassment and bullying.”

To view the full results from part three of The Fundraising Workplace Climate Survey, please click here. Reports from part one and part two are also available.

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