Emory Report
July 5, 2005
Volume 57, Number 34


Emory Report homepage  

July 5, 2005
HR climate survey data on website

BY Michael Terrazas

The results of last year’s Campus Climate Survey have been posted on Emory’s website, allowing anyone in the community to view a detailed, comprehensive breakdown of how the University fared in its self-measurement of how effectively it fosters diversity and ethical engagement in its working environment.

President Jim Wagner announced the website (http://emory.hr.emory.edu/hr/ climate.nsf) in an all-campus e-mail on Monday, June 20, saying the survey—which drew an impressive 39 percent response rate during its administration from Nov. 29–Dec. 17, 2004—is the first of several iterations to be repeated in years ahead.

“Among the positive outcomes, we can be grateful for its underscoring of the importance of open, two-way communication,” Wagner said. “Nurturing the kind of workplace all of us want requires that everyone be engaged; this survey and the discussion of its results vitally reinforce that engagement.”

In choosing to single out the need for better communication, Wagner re-emphasized the conviction with which Emory intends to address those findings, since communication is one of the practices that received the lowest scores in the climate survey: Just 24 percent of respondents said they receive “reliable information through Emory’s official lines of communications.”

But there was plenty of positive news, too. For example, 85 percent of respondents gave a favorable response (3 or better on a five-point scale) to whether they value diversity, and 78 percent believe Emory displays an institutional commitment to achieving that diversity.

To the question of whether they felt welcomed and valued at Emory, 60 percent responded favorably; males were more likely to respond favorably than women (67 percent to 56 percent), as were employees under 25
(76 percent) and over 64 (79 percent). Other issues that received mostly favorable responses (66 percent or better) were support from management for holding differing viewpoints or communicating in give-and-take discussions; pleasant interactions with coworkers; ability to participate in job-related training; and the provision of special work arrangements for the disabled.

Communication, however, was not the only area of challenge. To the above question about feeling valued, for example, African American employees were less likely to respond favorably at 49 percent. Other negative findings (defined as 52 percent positive or lower) included responses to questions about whether employees receive fair pay for their duties and responsibilities (40 percent); whether rules are applied equally to everyone in a given department (49 percent); and whether employees are provided advice and support on how to enhance their careers at Emory (43 percent).

“We’re working with schools and divisions to help them develop action plans for their divisional surveys,” said Del King, senior director in Human Resources. All of the major schools and units, King said, were provided reports covering data from respondents in those units. He also said constituency-specific reports are being provided to various governance groups, such as the faculty senate and employee councils, and the three president’s commissions. The President’s Commission on Race and Ethnicity (PCORE) helped develop the survey, in consultation with HR and consultant Kevin Nolan of Atlanta SurveyNET.

PCORE Chair Chris Grey said he was most encouraged by the findings that employees valued diversity—and by the response rate, since both PCORE and HR promoted the survey around campus.

“Most disappointing to me was that blacks did not feel welcomed or valued compared to the rest of the University community,” Grey said. “It almost seems ironic that we are hiring people who value diversity, yet one segment of our community, more so than any other, feels the least welcomed and valued. This signifies that, institutionally, we have some issues that need to be addressed.”

All of the responses are catalogued in detail on the new website, which features a brief history of how the survey came to fruition; graphs and charts providing easy-to-read snapshots of certain data sets; demographic breakdowns; and a section describing next steps in how the survey data will be used.

Even though the survey, which was administered both in print and electronic form, assigned respondents random identification numbers so their responses could be kept anonymous, Grey said he suspects some employees were skeptical that their feedback would be kept confidential. The next time the survey is administered, he said, perhaps more steps could be taken to assure employees that their responses will remain anonymous.