Under the leadership of Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Felicia Washington, the university has reimagined and revamped its approach to people, culture, and compliance. Upon her arrival in the summer of 2019, Ms. Washington was tasked with creating a professionalized, centralized, high-performing Human Resources organization. In an expanded role, Ms. Washington also assumed responsibility for the university offices responsible for professionalism, ethics, compliance and investigations. Those offices include the Office of Ethics and Compliance, the Office of Professionalism and Ethics, and the newly-created Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX, the office responsible for preventing and responding to protected class discrimination and harassment, including sexual and gender-based harassment and violence under Title IX.
As part of HR: Design for the Future (HRDF), the initiative to re-envision the services and structure of the evolved Human Resources, Equity, and Compliance Division, USC has embarked on a journey to transform its HR function into a strategic and highly effective business that reflects the integrity and standards of the University. The transformation will profoundly improve HR’s ability to serve and operate as one skilled network.
The goal of the realignment of functions is to become an organization that can nimbly deliver excellent, people-centric HR services to advance the University’s academic and people missions. Specific goals include: coordination of overlapping systems; more effective use of resources; informed and consistent training, education and messaging; centralized oversight for effective responses; clear line of sight into accurate reliable and real-time information; rationalization of functions and associated costs; accountability; nimble oversight; controls for compliance requirements; caring responses; and pathways for continuous improvement and sustainability.
Through HRDF, HR at USC is being aligned in order to better service HR customers, provide HR service excellence and improve the HR employee experience and career path. A new HR operating model, service delivery model, and job descriptions are being developed. Current HR employees will be placed into new roles through a placement process and any gaps in experience or capabilities will be filled using external recruiting. To further enable a strategic HR function at USC, processes are being redesigned.
HRDF directly supports HR’s goals of providing top tier HR service to university customers by improving upon the existing service delivery model and operating model. This program will not only improve university employees’ experience with HR, but also HR employees’ experience by providing more opportunities for career growth and development.
To inform these transformative efforts, Ms. Washington engaged in a Listening Tour to hear directly from campus constituents about their experiences with the university’s human resources functions. One theme that emerged was a clearly articulated need to build a centralized employee relations unit to proactively build positive relationships among employees, identify and help units resolve workplace issues, and measure employee satisfaction and morale. These learnings were also reflected in the recommendations of the Employee Relations Design Team and the Provost/SVP HR Joint Committee, committees comprised of USC faculty and staff.
In keeping with these findings and recommendations, in February 2021, the university welcomed a new Vice President of HR Services and Employee Relations, Louis Gutierrez. To ensure that non-protected status workplace concerns, whether about specific individuals, workplace environments, or systems and processes, are not just noted and documented but resolved, the ER function will be designed as an integral part of the new unit led by VP Louis Gutierrez.
Office of Ethics and Compliance
Consistent with the focus on people, culture, and compliance, the functions of the Office of Ethics and Compliance were reviewed and expanded to incorporate the response and investigation of complaints related to conflicts of interest, privacy and security laws, health care billing, and misconduct related to research grants, and Code of Ethics violations not within another office’s jurisdiction. The office, which is led by Vice President of Culture, Ethics and Compliance, Stacy Giwa, focuses on values and culture with the goal of strengthening integrity and ethical decision-making across the university. Most recently, the Ethics and Compliance Office has also assumed oversight of the university’s Clery Act compliance program.
Interim Assistant Vice President Office of Culture, Ethics, and Compliance
In November 2020, the university created a new position, Assistant Vice President, Office of Culture, Ethics, and Compliance, to lead the university’s Clery Act Compliance Program. Gabriel Gates, the former Assistant Vice President-Department of Safety & Security at the University of Virginia and University Compliance Manager at The Pennsylvania State University, is charged with implementing and monitoring compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. In his role, Mr. Gates coordinates closely with the EEO-TIX Office, the Department of Public Safety, and other key campus partners.