The Workplace Equity & Civility Initiative (the “WE&CI”) is a community collaboration that Lawyers Club of San Diego co-founded and administers, together with its co-founders and partners the National Conflict Resolution Center, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. The WE&CI is a commitment intended to promote a positive and productive means to eradicate workplace harassment while at the same time promoting equality in the workplace.

The WE&CI began as a response to the #MeToo movement and was brought together by San Diego’s community leaders in a collaboration to inspire and empower companies to create workplace cultures that make San Diego America’s finest place to work.

To date, several regional employers covering several thousand employees have signed the Commitment, which asks employers to commit to strive for work environments free of sexual harassment and gender discrimination by adopting and enforcing policies that promote pay equity; respectful workplace speech, language and conduct; environments where employees feel safe to speak and report concerns; education for all employees and measurable strategies to evaluate the education’s effectiveness; and positive engagement from employees regarding these issues. The Commitment also asks employers to implement and administer specialized training to their workforce to empower employees to speak up and partner with employers to eradicate discriminatory and other inequitable workplace conduct.

In addition to the public recognition by the collaboration on its website and in the San Diego Union-Tribune, WE&CI Commitment Signers will have special discounted access to nationally known training and workshops facilitated by the National Conflict Resolution Center, which include: “The ART of Inclusive Communication,” which addresses how to cultivate inclusive communication in a diverse workforce; “The Exchange,” which provides tools for managers and supervisors to facilitate conversations between employees in conflict situations; and “The Bystander Challenge,” which covers how to empower bystanders to speak up when they see inappropriate conduct in the workplace. “The Bystander Challenge” workshop is compliant with the new California state-mandated anti-harassment training.

In addition, the WE&CI provides information for employers, including tool kits developed by Lawyers Club to provide critical resources about workplace harassment laws, as well as educational resources relating to pay equity in the workplace. The WE&CI has also developed a model Code of Conduct to guide employers as to best practices to eradicate inequitable conduct in the workplace.

More information about the WE&CI – including the identity of employers who have signed the Commitment – may be found here.

Why should my organization sign?

As a certified WE&CI signer, you are making a public statement, that will be recognized, to your existing employees, applicants, recruits and your customers and the community you serve, that committing to an equitable workplace is prioritized in your corporate culture.

What does signing require my organization to do?

By signing, your organization agrees to adopt and live by the principles set forth in the Commitment. All of these principles are already legally mandated. But you are agreeing to go beyond that mandate and proactively act to both champion and hold yourself accountable to do everything possible – including providing specially developed training – to maintain a workplace free from harassment and discrimination and compensation systems untethered to gender or any other characteristic.

Why should I sign if I already abide by the law?

All employers of course must already comply with the law. But the WE&CI Commitment is an important additional step in rejecting the alarming but growing trend of normalizing incivility – something that is not the subject of legal regulation. The Commitment is a public statement that your organization rejects bad workplace behavior and states, in positive and affirmative terms, that your organization will try to promote a civil workplace be accountable for those efforts.

I already conduct state-mandated training – Isn’t that enough?

Here in California, all employers of at least five or more employees must provide training intended to combat harassment and bullying in the workplace. This robust training mandate does not insulate an employer from liability for misbehavior by its employees. The WE&CI goes further than this state-mandated training and asks employers to conduct bystander, communications and other training that affirmatively fosters upstander intervention, which goes beyond the state-mandated training currently required.

Why should I sign?

To hold yourself accountable and to communicate that accountability to your employees, future employees, your customers and our community.

What is the ultimate goal of the WE&CI?

We believe that the full participation in the WE&CI from our regional employers will naturally result in a more civil, productive workplace free of unwelcome distraction and increased productivity. That workplace will lead, we hope, to organic equity. San Diego will not only be the finest place to work – but the nicest place to work.