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Message from President Napolitano: June 16, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The George Floyd murder, along with many other injustices of systemic racism, have prompted long overdue, difficult conversations. Over the last few weeks, I have heard painful and emotional stories of unfathomable life experiences personally and at work, including here at UCOP.

While I will never fully comprehend what it feels like to be a person of color in this country, I am deeply committed to making things better, starting at UCOP. Along with many of you, I participated in a few recent UCOP virtual gatherings to be part of a collective grieving process and to listen and learn ways to be a better ally.

I am confident that our entire organization aspires to build and work in a culture of respect, equality, equity, and justice. To that end, we recently launched OP’s new Strategic Framework and renewed our commitment to being a community that fosters an open, inclusive, and productive environment that respects the potential of all individuals to make a positive contribution. Fulfilling that commitment has never been more important than it is now.

World events have given us a vivid picture of what is not working. We must now work collectively, and urgently, to make positive change for racial justice. This moment has been a long time coming.

Second, as you all know, the OP strategic framework includes a diversity and inclusion component for every division, and every division is currently working on specific actions to address this goal. As part of this work, I have asked each UCOP Division Leader to ensure all managers complete our online implicit bias training by August 30. The UC Managing Implicit Bias Series is a series of six online courses designed to increase awareness of implicit bias and reduce its impact at the University.

The six self-paced, online interactive courses include topics such as:

  1. What is Implicit Bias?
  2. The Impact of Implicit Bias
  3. Managing the Influence of Implicit Bias – Awareness
  4. Common Forms of Bias
  5. Managing the Impact of Implicit Bias – Mindfulness and Conscious De-Biasing
  6. Managing Implicit Bias in the Hiring Process

I encourage managers to hold subsequent discussions with their teams that continuously acknowledge potential biases and call them out when they emerge in work situations including hiring, promotions, and other personnel actions.

Third, I have decided to institute an ombudsperson function for UCOP. An ombuds office is a confidential, safe place for employees to discuss concerns, identify options, and create problem-solving strategies to resolve workplace conflict. We have contemplated this role for a while, and I think it can help UCOP to surface issues that we need to address.

We will begin an open recruitment for a permanent ombudsperson who will report to the President’s office. It is my hope and expectation that this will be in place by the end of this calendar year, and I have granted an exception to the hiring freeze for this role. In the meantime, we are exploring options to provide the ombudsperson function in the interim until we make a permanent hire.  We will keep you informed of our progress.

Change starts at home. It starts with me. It continues with you, and all of us together. Let this moment prove that within each of us is the power to change the world, especially when we stand together.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano