UWSA Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employment

The University of Wisconsin System Administration is an Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity employer committed to achieving a diverse workforce and to maintaining a community which welcomes and values a climate supporting equal opportunity and difference among its members.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Equal Employment Opportunity means providing all individuals with an equal chance to become aware of, apply for, and compete for jobs. Those things which interfere with that equal chance are discriminatory. It applies to all faculty, academic staff, classified, limited term and project positions, and to all employment practices including, but not limited to: recruitment, hiring, certification, testing, transfers, promotions, tenure, training, compensation, benefits, layoffs, non-contract renewals, termination, retention, and committee assignment. UW System Administration is committed to making every good faith effort to achieve the goal of equal employment opportunity.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action goes beyond the concept of equal employment opportunity. Affirmative Action means that the University is required to do more than ensure employment neutrality for women, racial/ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities. Affirmative Action policies and programs are tools whereby additional efforts are made to recruit, employ and promote qualified members of these formerly excluded groups, even if that exclusion cannot be traced to particular discriminatory actions on the part of the University. Unless affirmative action is undertaken to overcome the present effects of systematic institutional forms of exclusion and discrimination, nondiscriminatory employment practices will perpetuate the present imbalance situation. Through specific and result-oriented activities the University's goals are to ensure that every person is given full consideration through equal employment opportunity practices and achieve a representative workforce through its affirmative action programs.

The Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity promotes specific efforts designed to attract candidates from groups affected by discrimination and increase their utilization in the work force. These specific efforts may include special advertising designed to reach specific population groups, redesigning tests, and active recruiting of candidates from specific groups.

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a) Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational program or activity that receives financial support from the Federal government. Under Title IX, discrimination based on sex includes sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual assault. Title IX also prohibits retaliation against individuals who complain about or participate in an investigation regarding an alleged Title IX violation.

In compliance with Title IX, the University of Wisconsin does not discriminate on the basis of sex in employment or in its educational programs and activities. It is the University of Wisconsin’s goal to maintain an environment that is free from all forms of illegal harassment and discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual assault, sexual coercion, and rape.

UW System Administration takes all complaints and accusations of sexual misconduct seriously.  If you or a colleague would like assistance with an issue of sexual misconduct at UW System Administration, see the 'Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct' tab.

What is Diversity?

Diversity is a work in progress.

Diversity can be defined as - an understanding that each person is unique with individual differences. These differences can be defined as demographic, cultural, human, intellectual and philosophical in nature, and with exploration, and understanding for what each brings, using these differences, help us to create a supportive, respectful working environment.

UW - Diversity Resources

General - Diversity Resources

  • The World Cafe
  • Diversity Inc. - UW System employees can obtain full membership access to the DiversityInc.com website and magazine, Diversity Inc.


The UW–System Administration Affirmative Action Plan is a positive effort to assure that women and minorities are not underrepresented in our workforce. Under federal law, an affirmative action plan must include (1) a workforce analysis by job group; (2) a utilization analysis and (3) a set of specific goals designed to overcome under-utilization. A utilization analysis of the workforce shows a comparison between the representation of minority and female workers in the University workforce and their availability. Goals are established based on the utilization analysis. All academic departments and employing units are expected to apply good faith efforts in recruiting and employing women and minorities to achieve these goals. The statistical analysis and establishment of goals represent an affirmative effort to ensure that the University continues to provide employment opportunities on a nondiscriminatory basis. The UW–System Administration Affirmative Action Plan is updated annually. Copies of the current plan are available from the Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity.

Disability Accommodations

Welcome to the UW System Administration's ADA Coordinator's Homepage

UWSA Policy Statement

ADA Responsibilities

Reasonable Accommodation Request Form

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) provides that no qualified individual with a disability be denied access to or participation in services, programs, and activities at the University of Wisconsin-System Administration. This act applies to virtually all aspects of campus activities, including employment, student programming, and services provided to the community at large. As part of UWSA's ADA compliance program, this webpage has been developed to link you with the many ADA and disability-related resources at UWSA.

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

  • An anti-discrimination law for individuals with disabilities.
  • A national mandate to provide access to all aspects of American life to people with disabilities.

What does the ADA Cover?

  • Employment
  • Access to facilities, programs, services, activities
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • Other miscellaneous provisions

What do ADA Provisions Require?

Employment provisions of the ADA require good faith efforts by an employer and an employee who is a qualified individual with a disability to identify reasonable accommodations that permit the employee to perform the essential functions of the position.

Who is covered under the ADA Employment Provisions?

  • Academic Staff
  • Classified Staff (permanent, project, limited term)
  • Faculty
  • Interns
  • Limited Appointees (e.g., deans, directors)
  • Postgraduate Trainees
  • Program/Project Assistants
  • Research Associates
  • Student Hourly Employees
  • Undergraduate Assistants
  • Undergraduate Interns

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

We cannot tolerate harassment of any member of our community. The Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity can assist with concerns about any type of prohibited harassment or discrimination, including harassment based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, age, disability, and sexual orientation. This website is designed to help prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

When sexual harassment occurs, it degrades the quality of work and education at the University of Wisconsin. It erodes the dignity and productivity of the individuals involved and diminishes the quality, effectiveness, and stature of the institution. Sexual harassment not only violates the law and university policy but also can damage personal and professional relationships; cause career or economic disadvantage, and expose the university to legal liabilities, a loss of federal research funds and other financial consequences. For all these reasons, it is in our best interest to educate all community members and take other steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment. We have a collective responsibility to do so, thereby promoting an environment that better supports excellence in teaching, research, and service.

Sexual harassment is a community concern. Any one of us may experience harassment, be accused of harassment, or be consulted by someone who thinks he or she has been harassed. Sexual harassment can affect workplace relationships or learning relationships. It can occur in any university setting (an office, a classroom, a university program). Each of us has a duty not to harass others and to act responsibly when confronted by the issue of sexual harassment. Principle investigators, supervisors, managers, and lead workers: individuals in positions of authority must take reasonable measures to prevent sexual harassment and take immediate and appropriate action when they learn of allegations of sexual harassment.

Information About What To Do

What to Do About Sexual Harassment...

We encourage early contact: consultation is not escalation. Timely discussion of people's concerns may allow resolution before alternatives become limited. The university will protect confidentiality to the extent possible under the law.

...if you feel you've been sexually harassed

Seek advice. Consult your supervisor or manager, another divisional resource person, or the Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity.

You may choose to seek informal resolution or file a sexual harassment complaint.

You may find it helpful to seek support from a trusted colleague. Be aware of your interest in keeping the matter as confidential as possible.

Keep notes of what happened, when, where, and who was present. Retain copies of any correspondence.

Consider informing the individual(s) involved that the conduct is unwelcome and that you expect it to stop.

...if you are accused of inappropriate conduct

Early consultation may help avoid claims of retaliation and facilitate resolution of the situation.

You will be informed of any complaint filed against you and provided with an opportunity to respond to the specific allegations.

You should contact the Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity.

You may choose to seek private legal advice.

Be honest when questioned about alleged conduct and explain its context.

...if you are a colleague or peer

Listen to the report of alleged harassment sympathetically but objectively. Keep the expectations and advice for conversations offered in this site in mind during your conversation(s).

Encourage the individual to contact someone who can explain alternatives available to resolve the situation such as the Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity

If requested, and if you are comfortable doing so, assist the individual in reporting the behavior. Policies prohibiting retaliation are designed to protect you as well as the person bringing allegations forward.

Keep allegations confidential, except as necessary to cooperate with appropriate university officials.


If you are approached by someone who thinks he or she has been sexually harassed, you should refer the person to an appropriate supervisor or the Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity. Encourage the person to seek advice about reporting the behavior and learn about alternatives for resolution from one or more of these resources.

When listening to the person's concern, you should refrain from labeling the described conduct as harassment or saying that it is not harassment. Listen to the concern and move on to identify resources who can help to resolve the situation.

In addition, you may choose to discuss the situation and provide support.

If the person asks you to become involved and/or take action, you should consult a campus resource for guidance. There is no standard advice you can provide. Each case is unique and needs individual attention.

If you choose to assist the person through the process of resolution, the principles guiding your approach should be to listen, be respectful, be objective, and use campus resources.

Individuals in positions of authority (e.g., principle investigators, supervisors, managers, lead workers) have additional duties.

Individuals in Positions of Authority

...if you are in a position of authority

(E.g., principal investigator, supervisor, manager, lead worker)

You are responsible for:

  • taking reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in your unit,
  • taking immediate and appropriate corrective action to stop harassment when you know or have reason to know it may exist,
  • preventing its recurrence, and
  • remedying effects that could reasonably have been prevented.

Sexual harassment can arise in a healthy environment but it often develops in negative climates. If you have concerns about the climate in your area, consult with the Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity to learn about proactive measures to improve the climate for all individuals.

Distribute relevant policies to new faculty and staff and to all employees periodically and when there are modifications to the policy.

Schedule sexual harassment informational sessions and promote attendance by all department members.

Encourage employees to come forward with questions, concerns, and allegations. Avoid discouraging people from "going outside the department with problems." (A person may not be comfortable reporting within the department and may not seek help if the department's culture discourages outside assistance.)

Take every complaint seriously and ensure that others do as well. Ensure that your department adequately addresses all complaints. If you have questions about the scope of your responsibility, contact the Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity. Keep the advice for conversations offered in this site in mind during your conversation(s).

Keep allegations confidential except on a "need to know" basis.

Ensure that no retaliation occurs against the person making the allegations and that the person charged with harassment is not assumed guilty and/or disciplined on the basis of allegations.

For the protection of both parties, comply with all applicable university procedures and ensure that your department fully cooperates with any investigation.

Advice for Conversations

Determine quickly what the individual approaching you wants. Ask "What would you like me to do?" or, "How would you like me to help you?" This will help you avoid misunderstandings and clarify the person's objective in approaching you. Respect his or her decisions and don't impose what you think you would do under the same circumstances.

Be respectful. Do not dismiss the complaint as trivial; avoid telling the person to "grow a thicker skin" or saying that the alleged perpetrator "means well, but sometimes slips." Although they may be intended to help, these comments can make the person feel discounted. Try to keep in mind that what may seem unimportant to you may be offensive or threatening to someone who has different life experiences or less power.

Acknowledge the courage needed to approach you and the difficulty of the situation. If the person cries, remember that tears have various meanings and are often a sign of frustration and anger in professional settings. Acknowledge the person's emotions without labeling them, by saying something like: "This must be difficult for you." Something as simple as handing the person a box of tissues can be helpful and also can serve to decrease your discomfort. Avoid asking the person to leave because he or she is in tears; instead, allow time for the person to regain composure.

Remember that the fear of retaliation is common among those who have been sexually harassed and is often the reason they do not bring complaints forward. Reassure the person and explain that the university has created a network of resources to assist in responding to harassment complaints. University policy operates in conjunction with federal and state laws to prohibit retaliation against complainants. Retaliation against persons who participate in an investigation or assist someone in making a complaint also is prohibited. The policy applies even when a complaint ultimately is not substantiated to a degree required by law.

Be neutral. Avoid comments such as, "I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it" or, "Oh, she does that to everyone," which may sound as if you are defending the accused. Also avoid comments such as, "Well, you're so young and pretty" or, "You shouldn't have been in the lab by yourself at night," which may sound as if you are blaming the person confiding in you.

If you elect to support the person, you should not feel obligated to follow the matter through to its final conclusion. If you become uncomfortable with your involvement at any time, acknowledge your discomfort and let the person know that you are sorry but you cannot continue in the support role. Acknowledge how difficult it must be for him or her and encourage the person to consult a campus resource to receive appropriate assistance.

If the person asks you to contact the Office of Human Resources and Workforce Diversity, be sure you understand whether you are free to mention his or her name, or other identifying information such as the department or the alleged harasser's name, before you approach the campus resource for assistance.

It is generally best for all persons involved and for the effectiveness of any investigation into the matter if confidentiality is maintained. You should not discuss the situation with anyone unless the person has the authority to assist in the investigation or resolution of the matter.

Remember that conversations between a staff member and another individual are not privileged communication and can be elicited in the course of legal or administrative proceedings that might ensue.


State and federal laws and university policy protect against retaliation. University policy prohibits retaliation against a person because he or she reported sexual harassment, filed a complaint, participated in the investigation of a complaint, or assisted others who raised a complaint. Retaliation is a serious offense which can result in disciplinary action.

This protection exists even if a complaint eventually is dismissed or found lacking in merit. It does not follow that false claims will be tolerated: a person will be held accountable for knowingly making a frivolous or malicious complaint of sexual harassment.


Interested in learning more about diversity and how you can assist in creating an inclusive work environment? Here is some helpful classes and training opportunities available to get you started: