UCSF Survey Finds Vast Majority Comfortable with Campus Climate

By Lisa Cisneros

A campuswide survey of the UC San Francisco community finds that respondents are generally positive about the University’s working and learning environment overall with 70% indicating that they feel either “comfortable” or “very comfortable” while 11% feel “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable.”

The climate survey was designed to measure the working and learning environment across the entire UCSF community, with a particular focus on gauging perceptions on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Conducted from Oct. 11 through Dec. 3, 2021, by Emma White Research the self-administered online questionnaire was available in English, Spanish, and Chinese and distributed to all 30,000-plus faculty, academics, staff and all learners (students, post-doctoral scholars, residents, and fellows).

The final report of the UCSF Climate Survey of 14,579 faculty, staff and learners, representing about 44% of the total population, is posted on the UCSF Climate website.

Most survey respondents rated UCSF more effective rather than ineffective in promoting an environment free from discrimination in each of the following areas:

Sexual Orientation

73% effective
4% ineffective

Gender Identity and Expression

69% effective
6% ineffective


65% effective
8% ineffective

Race and ethnicity

62% effective
12% ineffective

UCSF continually strives to promote equity and engagement and to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion to create a supportive environment for everyone. These efforts take many forms across the enterprise, from implementing the Anti-racism Initiative to offering professional development, wellness, mentoring and workforce-training programs for members of the UCSF community.

UCSF regularly tracks the degree to which it is making progress and living up to its PRIDE Values through town halls and surveys, some of which are targeted to distinct roles. The UCSF Climate Survey is the sole survey that seeks feedback from all UCSF groups working and learning at UCSF.

“One of my most important priorities as Chancellor is to ensure that all members of our diverse UCSF community feel supported, empowered and valued,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood. “I appreciate getting the feedback from those who responded to the climate survey because these results will help us better understand areas where we should focus our efforts now and into the future.”

Building on Areas of Strength

The climate survey revealed multiple areas where respondents believe that UCSF is doing well and making progress to address equity and inclusion. The majority of respondents describe the UCSF climate as respectful (67%), friendly (66%), inclusive (60%) and consultative (52%). Most survey respondents also say they feel accepted at UCSF (75%) and connected to the institution (62%).

Importantly, most believe they have some power to impact the climate at UCSF with 73% saying that they are at least somewhat confident they can take actions that will positively affect the working and learning environment at UCSF.

Another area of strength is high awareness of and appreciation for UCSF’s PRIDE Values, which were developed by the UCSF Medical Center and adopted by the campus in 2016 to set a common direction for the entire UCSF community. The survey found that the PRIDE Values are widely understood, perceived to be highly important and rated positively for creating a climate that embraces Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diversity and Excellence.

In the education arena, most UCSF learners say the environment that they experience is positive with 84% reporting feeling comfortable in their classes and 81% in clinical learning environments.

Men and women both generally rate the climate at UCSF positively, though there is some perception, particularly among the faculty, that men receive preferential treatment in areas such as pay and opportunities for leadership. For example, 51% of faculty and 25% of staff say men receive preferential treatment regarding salary and compensation and 44% of faculty and 26% of staff say men receive preferential treatment in opportunities to assume leadership positions.

Mentoring continues to be very valuable to faculty and learners alike although staff respondents report that they are far less likely to have a mentor. Survey findings indicate advantages of mentoring – those who have mentors and sponsors are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experiences and report higher levels of satisfaction with UCSF on nearly every measure in the survey.

Identifying Areas for Improvement

Some of these results, particularly differences by race regarding experiences of the UCSF climate, reflect similar findings from previous surveys conducted of the UCSF community and from reports issued by UCSF’s offices that track challenges and complaints, including the Faculty Staff Assistance Program, the Ombuds office and the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.

Historically underrepresented groups were more likely to report experiences of discrimination and unequal treatment, according to climate survey results. These groups include Blacks/African Americans, those who are disabled and those who identify as transgender or non-binary, all reporting that they are less satisfied with UCSF’s campus environment than others.

One of my most important priorities as Chancellor is to ensure that all members of our diverse UCSF community feel supported, empowered and valued.

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood

For example, Black/African Americans in particular report higher rates of racial/ethnic discrimination and less positive perceptions of the climate than other groups, especially whites and Asians. Some 42% percent of Black/African Americans at UCSF say they have been discriminated against based on their race or ethnicity, according to the climate survey results.

This perception is much higher than found among Hispanic (19%), multiracial (18%), Native American (15%), Asian (15%), Pacific Islander (13%) and white individuals (4%).

“We are striving to create an environment throughout UCSF that is free from all forms of harassment, discrimination, or oppression, where we assure equitable opportunities for all members of our community,” said Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, vice chancellor of Diversity and Outreach. “These results show that we have more work to do as we continue to partner with leaders, managers and faculty across campus and UCSF Health to create a safe and welcoming climate.”

Those who have disabilities also report challenges at UCSF. Just 32% of people with a disability say the climate for people with disabilities is very good or good while 17% say it is poor or very poor and 27% say they don’t know, the climate survey found.

“While we have made improvements with respect to forms of accessibility, we need to continue raising awareness and address ableism in all its forms, to be truly disabilities-inclusive,” said Janhavi Bonville, associate executive vice chancellor and provost and co-chair of the Climate Survey Committee.

In general, transgender men and women and non-binary individuals (grouped together in the survey analysis as “trans/non-binary”) report feeling less positive about the climate at UCSF. Only 28% of trans/non-binary members of the community say the climate for transgender individuals is very good or good.

About one in four of survey respondents say they have experienced exclusionary (e.g. shunned, ignored), intimidating, offensive, and/or hostile (bullied, harassing) behavior within the last year at UCSF. Those who have experienced these behaviors most commonly list their perceived lower or junior position as the reason for the behavior. The next most common causes they attribute this behavior to are race/ethnicity, gender, and age.

Creating a Holistic Action Plan

With the results from the climate, staff engagement and physician surveys in hand, UCSF leaders will identify common themes to develop a holistic approach for improving the campus environment. Action plans will be developed with the input of faculty, staff and learners in coordination with deans, vice chancellors, managers, and faculty advisors.

Findings from past surveys have led to the implementation of several UCSF-wide programs and initiatives. The 2017 faculty climate survey, for example, led UCSF to not only address pay gaps between men and women, but also to enhance family leave policies that increased childbearing and child-rearing leave and mandating that search committees include more women and people of color.

We are striving to create an environment throughout UCSF that is free from all forms of harassment, discrimination, or oppression.

Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach

“The recent UCSF Climate Survey repeats key items from the 2017 faculty survey so that we are able to continue to assess faculty perceptions in these areas,” said Elizabeth Ozer, PhD, professor and associate vice provost for Faculty Equity, and co-chair of the Climate Survey Committee.

Other recent and related improvements at UCSF include expanding the CARE Advocate Program, working to achieve greater diversity in leadership through the Staff Equity Advisor recruitment model, establishing an inaugural Chief Accessibility Officer role, and launching a mandatory foundational diversity, equity and inclusion training program for all faculty, staff and learners.

As UCSF moves forward with alternative forms of working, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to be a competitive employer, special consideration will be made to evaluate how members of the UCSF community perceive the climate based on whether they work onsite, remotely or a combination of both. This survey found that comfort with the UCSF climate is mostly consistent across work/learning environments with 69% of in-person workers/learners reporting they are comfortable, compared to 72% of remote and 72% of individuals in a hybrid situation.

To continue the ongoing dialogue to address the areas of weakness identified in the climate survey, UCSF leaders will convene a town hall on Sept. 22, 2022. As part of the ongoing series of anti-racism town halls, this forum will feature diverse perspectives from faculty, staff and learners. More focused discussions on group-specific results will be convened by the leaders of those groups to engage in developing solutions together.

A wall of a building in Mission Bay with "UCSF" signagge mounted

The final report of the UCSF Climate Survey is posted on the UCSF Climate website.

Read the report