Emory Report

March 23, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 25

First Person

Emory has women, minorities
in top jobs, says Miller

Choices and Responsibilities states, "Diversity is about more than equal opportunity; it is about the role of difference in perceiving, learning, knowing and understanding." Choices and Responsibilities reiterates-indeed, institutionalizes-our appreciation for diversity at Emory.

"Glass ceiling" is the phrase used to describe invisible barriers that prevent qualified women and minorities from advancing into top management positions. More specifically, the definition includes pay inequity, stereotypes, perception, bias and lack of executive support for diversity.

In 1995 the federal Glass Ceiling Commission reported to Congress that in top Fortune 1000 industrial and Fortune 500 service companies, 95 percent of the senior level managers were male and that 97 percent of those men were white. Women in these positions totaled only 5 percent, with only 5 percent of them being minority women. This study and others establish the fact that a glass ceiling does exist in corporate America.

How does Emory compare? Well, a report issued by the President's Commission on the Status of Women showed that while there is no statistically significant difference in the salaries of Emory employees in four pay grades, focus groups revealed a general perception that women are paid less than men holding positions in these same pay grades.

Our demographics, however, refute the notion of the glass ceiling. We have prominent women in high-ranking positions at Emory in divisions and departments ranging from the Provost's office to Facilities Management.

Women have unequivocally permeated the top ranks of the organization-and not merely on a token level. Many were internally promoted to their current positions, and we have many more women managers poised to accept more responsibility.

When comparing Emory to other organizations our efforts to promote diversity are clearly advanced. The primary factor that the Glass Ceiling Commission identified as ensuring the success of women and minorities is CEO commitment. President Chace has indicated strongly and often that he has a personal interest in matters of diversity and equal opportunity.

The facts support it.

Among the University's principal staff, which refers to our key professional and management positions, 56 percent are women and 13 percent are minorities. Of the 7,612 full-time employees at Emory, 45.8 percent are minority and 72 percent are female. And last year 552 Emory employers were promoted-66 percent of them were women and 41 percent of them minorities. Clearly Emory values the talent of all its employees.

So why does this longstanding belief of a glass ceiling still exist despite facts that support parity? What is this perception based on? Jim Cunningham of the Disney Institute summed it up well when he said, "Facts are negotiable. Perceptions are not." The facts show Emory does not have a glass ceiling, yet some perceive it does. The PCSW's next task is to find answers to the questions I just asked.

Our campus life reflects the rich diversity of lifestyles, ethnicity, religious views and economic status that exists in the world around us. Our employment processes have been fine-tuned to ensure that job candidates are the most qualified-not the most white or the most male. We include diversity in our strategic plans and in our efforts to foster internal promotions. We have programs in place that are geared to helping employees prepare themselves for progressive responsibility. We have supportive services that help employees assess and plan for career options. We have educational opportunities available to all employees: courtesy scholarships, tuition reimbursement, Learning and Development classes and ABE/GED classes. Last year alone more than 1,400 people took advantage of the training opportunities offered through Human Resources. And close to 1,000 employees utilized the courtesy scholarship and tuition reimbursement benefits.

Human Resources works closely with the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs to ensure that we promote and sustain equal opportunities. And we have put policies into practice that address family needs regardless of gender or sexual orientation. We are doing as much as possible to help our employees maintain a balance between their careers and their families. We are providing as many avenues as we can to help our employees succeed.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women and minorities will account for approximately 62 percent of the work force in the year 2000. The continuing globalization of our business practices relies on the advancement of these individuals into every level of our institution.

Advancement, though, relies on desire and action. As Laurence Lee once said, "The world does not pay for what a person knows. But it pays for what a person does with what he knows." The continuous change in our organization's work force requires us to step beyond traditional expectations and the status quo. The success of all of Emory's employees-not only female and minority employees-depends on how they use what they know and how they prepare themselves for their futures.

Emory has made great strides and we will continue to make them, but we still have places to go. We need to improve the ways in which we share information about our successes and our needs. And we need to work on identifying why the perception of a glass ceiling exists and work to overcome it.

Choices and Responsibility-Emory provides employees with numerous choices for building successful careers. The responsibility for identifying and making the appropriate choice rests with the employee.

We have educated, well-qualified women and minorities within the ranks of our organization. We have resources available to help employees advance. We only need to motivate ourselves and others to find the way to the top and beyond.

Alice Miller is vice president of Human Resources. This essay is excerpted from a talk she delivered to the Employee Council in December.

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