Leadership Corner

Stand Up for Each Other—A field perspective

June 8th, 2018 at 10:45AM

Portrait of K.C. Briggs.
Kimberly “K.C.” Briggs is the Cottage Grove District Ranger, Umpqua National Forest, and a member of the Chief’s Employee Advisory Group on Work Environment.

Next week, everyone in the Forest Service will participate in an event called Stand Up for Each Other. The agenda is the same for everyone across the country. And as a district ranger, I will facilitate a session for my employees here on our district. Facilitating a session like this is a stretch for me, but I’m committed to doing my best and, hopefully, my employees will allow for me to learn and grow in my facilitation skills.

We all work together on our districts. We are truly dependent on each other for mutual support and success. Every one of us deserves to feel valued for our work, and that can only come in a workplace that is safe, respectful, free from harassment, assault, bullying and retaliation of any kind. Each one of my—and our—employees has the potential to bring unique contributions to these discussions. I want and need for them to feel safe to openly discuss our many complex issues.

I also know that we have circumstances where we want to learn more and do better. The time has come when it is necessary to stop and sit down together for some frank discussions about our core values as an agency, about our history and culture, and about our own individual behaviors. The vast majority of the people I know in the Forest Service are decent, caring individuals, people who already know how to bring out the best in one another. You may also experience that in your work environment.

The day of the event is broken into separate learning sessions. We will start out by talking about core values at the Forest Service—values that we embrace like conservation, service, safety and diversity. We will talk about how we expect Forest Service folks to show up for each other and for the people we serve—trustworthy, respectful, responsive, caring, inclusive and just plain curious. All of this underpins how we work at the Forest Service and why we chose to work for this agency.

Then we will see some videos about our anti-harassment policy and program, presented by experts and leaders at all levels of our organization. Each video will be an opportunity for further discussion, where employees can talk about what they’ve seen and how it might relate to their own experiences, whether in their current workplace or in the agency as a whole.

What do we expect from Stand Up for Each Other?

I myself expect to come away with a better understanding of what harassment, assault, bullying and retaliation are, how to recognize them and what to do about them when I see them. I expect us on our district to come away with a shared understanding that we will not tolerate unacceptable behaviors and a shared commitment to standing up for each other if ever we see such behaviors. I expect us to protect one another and learn from our mistakes.

I know we have been through some tough times lately, but I know those examples are not indicative of the majority of Forest Service employees. The vast majority of the folks at the Forest Service are wonderful people who live up to the highest standards of public service. I am proud to work with them and proud of the work we do together as an agency on behalf of the people we serve, both now and for generations to come.