TOPEKA, KS – Today the Women’s Foundation announced recommendations for preventing and combating sexual harassment in the Kansas Legislature. The recommendations were developed with input from legal experts, advocates and community stakeholders following reports of widespread sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by Kansas state legislators.
“Every instance of sexual harassment, especially when it is perpetrated by elected officials entrusted with political leadership, is a setback for gender equity and opportunity,” said Women’s Foundation President and CEO, Wendy Doyle. “Our review found that the Kansas Legislature lacks the policies, procedures and coordinated approach necessary to prevent sexual harassment from happening, and to respond effectively when it does. We look forward to helping the Kansas Legislature adopt these recommendations and working with leaders across state government to combat sexual harassment and promote equity and opportunity for all women.”
After reports of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by Kansas state legislators, Senator Susan Wagle asked the Women’s Foundation to conduct a review of the legislature’s current policies regarding sexual harassment. The recommendations will be formally submitted to the Kansas Legislative Coordinating Council during a public hearing today.
The recommendations are grouped four categories: ethics and workplace culture, accountability and monitoring, education and awareness, and victim resources. They include: requiring elected officials, legislative staff, interns and lobbyists to actively participate in an annual training on civil discourse, cultural competence, and sexual harassment; providing for independent, outside legal counsel to conduct sexual harassment investigations; allowing victims to report their allegations anonymously; establishing a non-fraternization policy for elected officials, legislative staff, interns and lobbyists; and banning arbitration and limiting mediation, which can serve to silence victims and shield sexual predators from accountability.
“Sexual harassment cannot be tolerated – not in our workplaces, not in our communities, and certainly not here in the Capitol,” said State Sen. Susan Wagle. “I thank the Women’s Foundation for their dedication to addressing this issue and their work to develop these thoughtful recommendations. These recommendations give us a roadmap that will guide us in the weeks, months and years ahead as we work to eliminate sexual harassment, improve the culture of the capitol, and ensure the safety of everyone who works here.”
The full list of the recommendations is available here.
The Women’s Foundation promotes equity and opportunity for women of all ages, using research, philanthropy and policy solutions to make meaningful change. More information about the organization can be found at www.Womens-Foundation.org.