After reports earlier this year that sexual misconduct and pay disparity had plagued Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, the Vermont senator’s 2020 campaign has released guidelines for fighting those issues.
But the 16-page “Blueprint for Safety, Inclusion, and Equity in Political Campaign Work,” released Tuesday, covers more than gender discrimination. It also delves into the compounded consequences of relying on “white and male-dominated” political networks for hiring, making hasty management decisions, and lacking a transparent pay structure.
“Fair workplace practices matter — to effective outreach to all constituencies and communities, to getting more votes, volunteers, and grassroots donations, to broader perspectives that can help avoid messaging and policy mistakes,” the document proclaims. “In other words, safety, inclusion and equity are how you win.”
People who work with the campaign, like surrogates and contractors, must read and sign the document’s sexual harassment policy, according to the Guardian, which first reported its release.
Earlier this year, after 2016 staffers sought to meet with Sanders over “the issue of sexual violence and harassment” on that campaign, the New York Times reported that stories of poor treatment and pay had circulated among former Sanders staffers for weeks. Sanders ultimately met with those staffers and apologized to women who were harassed or mistreated, saying in a statement, “What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about.”
Over the last few months, Sanders’ campaign has also taken several steps to address the criticism that the senator’s 2016 team was “too white, too male-oriented,” as Sanders himself has called his 2016 team. Last month, Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said that the 2020 team was made up of about 40% people of color and was majority-women, the Guardian reported. Shakir is also the first Muslim to head a major U.S. presidential campaign.
The Sanders team also unionized in March; it’s the first major party presidential campaign to do so.
Sanders, who is an Independent, isn’t the only major 2020 candidate to face accusations that his team has failed to deal adequately with sexism and sexual misconduct. For example, a former aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who’s made fighting sexual violence a key issue in her political career, resigned over the way the New York Democrat’s office handled the aide’s sexual harassment complaint against a colleague. However, many 2020 campaign aides told the Guardian that they’re working on policies to fight sexual harassment.
Cover: Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at rally in Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday, April 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)