|Sexual Harassment Policies: Smithsonian Has Procedures for Prevention, but Could Improve Guidance and Monitoring|
The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, education, and research complex. It has several thousand employees and supports or funds thousands of affiliated persons—a term Smithsonian officials use to cover all personnel working with the Smithsonian who are not employees, including contractors and volunteers. The Smithsonian provides two non-mutually exclusive processes for addressing allegations of sexual harassment for both affiliated persons and employees, according to officials (see table). The first process, developed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and implemented by the Smithsonian's Office of Equal Employment and Minority Affairs, addresses formal complaints made to this office. The second, known as the management process, addresses complaints made to unit supervisors. Use of one or both processes for resolving a complaint is up to the preference of the employee or affiliated person filing the complaint. While the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission establishes guidance on the first process, the Smithsonian does not provide specific written guidance to supervisors on how to address complaints of sexual harassment under the second process, which is inconsistent with federal internal control standards. Supervisors might be better prepared for addressing and responding to sexual harassment complaints with specific written guidance. Nor are there procedures or processes for tracking complaints raised through that process, inconsistent with the institution's strategic plan. The Smithsonian's 2022 Strategic Plan calls for greater collaboration and coordination between central administration and other parts of the institution, and tracking could help central administration monitor trends and ensure that complaints are addressed.