April 14, 2003

Glass ceiling is lifted

Alice Miller is vice president for Human Resources

In 1997, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) issued a report showing that, although there were no statistically significant differences in the salaries of men and women in specific pay grades studied at Emory, focus group participants held a general perception that women were paid less than men holding positions in these same pay grades. There was a sense that a “glass ceiling”––invisible barriers preventing qualified women from advancing into top management positions––existed at Emory.

The actual numbers of women in high-ranking positions refute the notion of a glass ceiling at Emory. There are dozens of prominent women in high-ranking positions, with vice presidents or associate/assistant vice presidents in finance, development, the provost’s office, ITD, HR, public affairs and the libraries. In the academic area, we have two female deans.

Unequivocally, women have permeated the top ranks of the University and many more are in management positions, poised to accept more responsibility. Still, even beyond the presence of women in executive positions, other facts demonstrate that Emory’s glass ceiling has been lifted, not only for women but for minority employees, as well.

Recent research indicates that women hold less than 7 percent of all board seats in Fortune 100 companies. Six women serve on Emory’s 33-member Board of Trustees; that’s nearly 20 percent.

Among the University’s principal staff, which refers to key professional and management positions, 57 percent are women and 15 percent are minorities.

Of the 8,570 full-time staff at Emory, 72 percent are female and 50 percent are minority. And last year, of the 551 Emory employees who were promoted, 81 percent were women and 61 percent were minorities. There were 340 reclassified positions; of those, 76 percent were held by women and 40 percent by minorities.

Clearly, Emory values the talent of all its employees and has found ways to remove barriers associated with the glass ceiling.

The University’s campus life reflects the rich diversity of lifestyles, ethnicity, religious views and economic status that exist in the world around us. Emory’s employment processes have been fine-tuned to ensure that job candidates are the most qualified. Diversity is included in our strategic plans and in our efforts to foster internal promotions. Programs are in place to help employees prepare for progressive responsibility, and support services such as career counseling help employees assess and plan for their futures.

Educational opportunities are available to all employees: courtesy scholarships, tuition reimbursement, learning and development classes, and ABE/GED classes. Last year alone, close to 4,200 people took advantage of the training opportunities offered through HR, and more than 1,000 employees and their dependents utilized the courtesy scholarship and tuition reimbursement benefits.

HR works closely with the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs (EOP) to ensure that we promote and sustain equal opportunities. We have put into practice policies that address family needs, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Emory is doing much to help our employees maintain a balance between their careers and their families. Through the Faculty Staff Assistance Program, Emory offers the Family Resources Program, which provides information regarding child care, elder care and summer camp resources.

Mentor Emory, a program cosponsored by HR and PCSW, is designed to link female employees seeking career enrichment with experienced female staff. The objective is to encourage women to further their professional development, enhance their careers and provide resources to hone their skills.

Emory supports alternative work arrangements (flexible work schedules, telecommuting, job sharing and condensed work weeks) on a case-by-case basis.

The website, www.emory.edu/awa, serves as a guide for managers and employees. Based on recommendations from the PCSW’s report on alternative work arrangements, the site explores definitions, scenarios and pros and cons of various situations as well as links to other public and private business websites exploring similar options.

The continuous change in the workplace requires us to step beyond traditional expectations and the status quo. The success of all of Emory’s employees depends not only on how we use what we know, but also on how we prepare ourselves for the future.

Through our efforts in HR, EOP and the president’s commissions, Emory has made great strides in breaking the glass ceiling and the commitment is perpetual. We need to improve the ways in which we share information about our successes and our needs. And, most importantly, we need to work on identifying and overcoming the causes of the perception of the existence of a glass ceiling at Emory.