UCSF to Survey Entire Community About Climate for Inclusion

By Dan Fost

people walk across a crosswalk at UCSF Parnassus Heights campus

It’s time to make your voice heard. 

UC San Francisco is encouraging its 33,000 faculty, staff and learners to participate in a confidential survey designed to help the University better understand people’s perceptions and experiences about the environment in which they work and learn. 

“This is an opportunity for everyone to make their voices clearly heard, especially those from underrepresented or marginalized groups, so we can better understand how they’re experiencing being at UCSF and use that information to drive our interventions,” said executive sponsor, Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, vice chancellor for Diversity and Outreach. 

The UCSF Climate Survey runs from Oct. 11 through Nov. 30 and builds upon prior surveys, such as the 2012/2013 UCSF Climate Survey, as well as surveys aimed at specific groups, including a 2017 faculty climate survey, staff engagement surveys, and those targeted to students, and physicians, for example. 

Areas the survey will seek feedback on include: 

  • Diversity, equity, inclusion (encompassing belonging, respect, engagement) 
  • Opportunities for mentorship, sponsorship, and advancement
  • Anti-racism efforts
  • Experiences of harassment and discrimination
  • Campus support services, initiatives and resources

In addition to UCSF’s 24,000 staff members and 3,200 faculty, the survey will extend to a broad category of learners, including 3,100 graduate and professional students, 1,100 post-doctoral scholars, and 1,600 clinical residents and fellows.  

Addressing Experiences of Belonging

Putting members of the UCSF community into one survey makes sense, said Janhavi Bonville, associate executive vice chancellor and provost who is co-chairing the survey with Elizabeth Ozer, PhD, professor of Pediatrics and associate vice provost of Faculty Equity. “We are all members of the same community despite our different roles,” Bonville said. “The core goals of belonging, equity and inclusion apply to everybody.”

Results from the new climate survey will be compared to data from the 2012/2013 climate assessment to identify weaknesses and build upon strengths to ensure a healthy, safe and welcoming climate for all at UCSF. 

In May 2019, Navarro convened a broad-based task force comprising people from across UCSF to determine the steps to administer the survey. Building upon prior surveys, as well as taking into account current salient areas to assess, the task force helped develop the key questions that will be in the survey, Ozer said. The survey originally was planned to be sent in 2020, but UCSF leaders decided to postpone it due to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Going forward, UCSF plans to conduct the climate survey every three years, “so that we can hear the voices of those who are members of our campus and health system community,” Navarro said. 

Results to Inform Action Planning

As with previous survey findings, UCSF leaders will develop action plans and strategic initiatives to improve the overall climate for everyone.

Past surveys have led to the implementation of specific actions. The 2017 faculty survey, for example, led UCSF to make improvements in faculty salary equity; family leave policies that increased child-bearing and child-rearing leave; and many aspects of hiring and promotion, including bolstering the importance of contributions to diversity and creating more representative search committees. 

UCSF launched a diversity, equity and inclusion training for all employees this year and established an anti-racism initiative in 2020, affirming its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“While those are goals of the institution, we know we're not there yet,” Navarro said. “There are individuals and groups who may have different experiences as being a part of our enterprise. This survey gives them an opportunity to share their voices, and it gives us an opportunity to hear those voices and to make sure we’re sufficiently addressing the needs of all members of our community.”

Emma White Research will conduct the survey and receive all the responses. To encourage people to give candid and honest feedback, no one at UCSF will be able to identify any respondent’s answers. 

While most members of the UCSF community will be invited to take the survey online with an email sent on Oct. 11 giving them their unique link, people who are non-desktop employees will be able to complete the survey on paper if they request it. The survey will be available in English, Spanish and Mandarin. 

UCSF expects to have the survey results tabulated and communicated by the spring of 2022.