Leadership Corner

Ongoing efforts to create a better workplace

August 31st, 2018 at 2:00PM

Photo: Portrait of Vicki Christiansen in front of American & Forest Service flags.
Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen, USDA Forest Service

Tonight, Dateline NBC is expected to air a segment about the Forest Service that addresses alleged incidents of sexual harassment in this agency. I want you to know that these stories are important. We should continue to learn from employees’ perspectives and reflect on our individual roles in continuing to maintain a work environment where these experiences are not possible, because who we aspire to be shows up in all of our interactions with each other.

I’ve said before, but I can’t say it enough: every single one of you, every single employee in the Forest Service, is our most valued asset in this agency. Everywhere I go, I see employees with a deep appreciation for the higher purpose that unites all of us.

As I shared with you during the recent all-hands call, my experience early in my career motivates me to be personally committed to continue to build the skills we need to succeed together in this agency. I hope you will each join me in that ongoing commitment.

We can fulfill our mission only if we have a work environment that is safe, respectful, rewarding and free from harassment and retaliation of any kind. We need to continue to find ways to bring our agency core values and our commitments to life in our workplace every day.

Our efforts have been notable. We’re learning to get better every day. We updated our anti-harassment policy, engaged an employee advisory group, and we are rolling out bystander intervention training. We have also just dedicated a senior executive, Leslie Weldon, to focus exclusively on improving our work environment. I provided a more thorough update on the status of this work during the recent employee call. If you missed it, you can read a summary and listen to the call in last week’s Leadership Corner.

I can’t thank you enough for what you do and your commitment to the mission of this agency in serving the American people. We have lots of opportunities and only together can we continue to propel this agency forward.