Senator Bernie Sanders, accelerating his efforts to contain the damage from reports of sexism and harassment during his 2016 presidential campaign, plans to meet on Wednesday with a group of former staff members seeking assurances of better practices if he runs again in 2020.
As other potential presidential candidates prepare to roll out campaigns with forceful, positive messaging, Mr. Sanders and his supporters have instead been forced to play defense, addressing allegations during his last presidential bid.
The meeting on Wednesday, which will be held in Washington, will focus on the treatment of women going forward, some invitees and people close to Mr. Sanders said Monday. Mr. Sanders’s campaign arm began reaching out to the former staff members to help make travel arrangements and intends to pay for air travel and hotel expenses, the people said.
Mr. Sanders plans to attend a portion of the meeting.
The steps Mr. Sanders and his supporters have taken over the last week underscore the sense of urgency the senator faces as he prepares for a likely 2020 campaign. Though he has not yet announced that he intends to run, he has told aides and advisers that a decision is coming soon.
In the last two weeks, The New York Times and Politico have published reports with accounts of harassment and discrimination from former workers in Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign. Mr. Sanders has twice apologized publicly to women who were mistreated, and promised to do better if he runs again.
The allegations have also contributed to a shakeup of Mr. Sanders’s core group of advisers. Should he run again in 2020, three top aides from the 2016 campaign either will not return or will serve in different roles, according to people close to Mr. Sanders. One of those advisers is Jeff Weaver, his campaign manager, who has said he would not return in the same role if Mr. Sanders runs again.
The meeting on Wednesday comes in response to a letter sent two weeks ago by more than two dozen people who worked on Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign, asking to meet with the senator and his leadership team to discuss issues of harassment.
Mr. Sanders and his advisers have emphasized that his 2018 Senate campaign worked with outside experts and consultants to create and implement a new harassment policy and brought in an outside human resources firm for people to report instances of mistreatment. The meeting on Wednesday will be led by Jenny Yang and Pamela Coukos from Working IDEAL, a company that advises on workplace inclusion, fair pay and diversity.
Thatmeeting follows a series of house parties across the country on Saturday in which loyal supporters urged Mr. Sanders to run; part of a live-stream presentation for the events focused on workplace conduct issues.
Sheila Healy, who worked on Mr. Sanders’s re-election campaign for his Senate seat in Vermont last year, described steps his campaign had taken to make it more inclusive — including new human-resources policies that she said were posted on walls in all of the campaign’s offices. She reassured the live-stream viewers that these policies would be in place should he run again in 2020.
Ms. Healy had been asked by a moderator to discuss the measures put in place in 2018 to ensure that people working on the campaign “felt welcome and empowered and respected” and what the implications would be for 2020.
“In 2018 here in Vermont, Bernie’s campaign took some of the lessons that we learned from 2016 and used them to create new policies that were designed to ensure that accountability, respect and professionalism stay a part of our culture,” Ms. Healy said.