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News | April 28, 2017

SAPR program finds success after survey origins

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va., April 28, 2017 — Spurred by team member assessments, Defense Contract Management Agency launched its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program two years ago.

“A climate survey identified a training and support deficiency regarding our sexual assault prevention and response, or SAPR, program,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Wendy Masiello, during her 2017 Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month message. “That spoke loudly to me. Your voices have been heard, and I want to tell you about some of what we’ve done.”

According to the agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity director, Linda Galimore, the program’s development has been rapid due in large part to leadership and employee support. Galimore explained that after identifying and hiring an experienced SAPR professional to run the program, the team developed and deployed mandatory SAPR training, held awareness events, conducted face-to-face training throughout the agency, and published sexual assault policy and guidance instructions.

Simone Hall was the SAPR veteran picked to run the program. She said she is confident her team has improved the agency’s workplace environment and pointed to team member response as an example.

“I believe one of the biggest indicators of the increased awareness of DCMA’s SAPR Program is the amount of requests I receive from employees who wish to volunteer to serve as victim advocates for their organizations,” Hall said. “DCMA now has two additional regional sexual assault response coordinators, five certified victim advocates and three victim advocates scheduled to attend the National Organization for Victim Assistance Victim Advocacy Academy.”

Employee interest is often peaked during Hall’s travels, which are extensive in support of her program goals.

“Throughout the year, I travel across the agency conducting face-to-face training to ensure all employees are aware of the agency’s SAPR support services,” Hall said.

Galimore praised both Hall and Masiello. Hall for her “relentless efforts to raise awareness and equip leaders with the tools necessary to prevent sexual harassment and take prompt appropriate actions if/when unfortunate events occur;” and Masiello for her “decisive actions to confront the SAPR deficiencies and approve a full-time employee to combat the issue.”

The program’s swift development and implementation support Masiello’s view of a healthy command environment.

“I have zero tolerance for sexual assault,” said the Air Force veteran, who will soon conclude her agency time and retire with more than 36 years on active duty. “I have personally spoken with victims, and have seen the pain and desperation in their eyes. We have an obligation to one another to stop violence of any kind in the workplace and in our personal lives.”

The Department of Defense’s current SAPR Strategic Plan focuses on continual improvement of organizational culture while targeting the department’s “unique needs and challenges.”

“Any successful SAPR Program begins with leaders establishing an organizational climate founded on the principles that all employees deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” Hall said. “Sexual assault and the behaviors that often lead to sexual assault — sexual harassment, discrimination, etc. — are contradictory to a positive command climate, so leadership has to be involved in setting the tone for a positive command climate; that tone has definitely been set by our director.”

As the program expands and she prepares to move on, Masiello ended her SAPR message with a call to action.

“I expect all DCMA team members to foster a culture of dignity and respect, and one free of violence,” Masiello said. “Every one of us has a role in — and responsibility for — ending sexual assault in the workplace. Be bold. This is a time when we must stand as one team.”