The University Record, February 6, 1995

McClain updates AWC on progress on women’s issues

McClain updates AWC on progress on women's issues

By Jane R. Elgass

Jackie McClain has set for herself a pretty tough mission: To improve the University environment for everyone. And she "won't put up with anything that isn't a quality program."

McClain, who is executive director of Affirmative Action/Human Resources, addressed a lunch meeting of the Academic Women's Caucus (AWC) on Sept. 27, updating those attending on a number projects--some of them affecting women more than others--that are under way or in the planning/development stages.

Prior to McClain's arrival last year, the University did not provide full service in the academic personnel area; "the focus was primarily on process," she explained. That has been changed with the appointment of E. Kay Dawson on a half-time basis to oversee the processes side. Dan Gamble, who has for some time worked with the Graduate Employees Organization, is now directing his attention full-time to academic personnel. One of his first tasks is a study of other schools to see how they handle orientation and management training for deans, directors and department heads.

McClain notes that the U-M "lacks any routine, formal training for academic administrators," which has the potential to cause problems in a number of areas.

Touching specifically on issues affecting recruitment and retention of women faculty, she reported that "two offers are out and a couple are in the works," with respect to the 10 positions for senior faculty that are part of the Michigan Agenda for Women.

In addition, 20 individuals received Career Development Awards last year and applications are being accepted for another round of 20 awards. That program is coordinated by Susan Lipschutz, associate provost.

McClain added that a utilization analysis is being conducted for the first time in years, and that she will meet with deans and directors to review and discuss goals.

McClain also updated her audience on the following issues:

• Recruitment. New materials are being developed the make clear the University's position on diversity and that provide specific information on subgroups of the University. The materials include a checklist that search committees can give to potential candidates.

McClain's desire for information in this area stems from her experience moving here. "I have a 15-year-old Hispanic son," she explained. "I found very little information from the University when I was researching the area."

Also in development are separate guidelines for recruitment of faculty and staff that will include process samples and rating grids.

"None of these guarantees successful recruitment and retention," she pointed out, "but rather are tools to assist in the process."

McClain is working with Lester P. Monts, vice provost for academic and multicultural affairs, on the issue of administrative accountability, "and we will be going to the executive officers on this issue. If we stay decentralized, we must work effectively with those who are accountable."

• Human Resource Development (HRD). Three assessments of the HRD operations will be conducted--by staff, by customers and by an external consultant--"to determine HRD's role in the Univer-sity and the role it should play." Also being explored are alternative forms of information delivery, such as CDs.

• Family-friendly policies. "A lot aren't," McClain contends. As a personal objective, she would like to see the cap on the use of sick leave for family illness removed, but added that "there is a lot of interplay with other issues. However, we have to recognize we have a changing workforce whose members are dealing with both offspring and parents."

• Job-sharing and job-splitting. While an attractive approach from an employee's perspective, McClain explained, departments are reluctant to create job-sharing opportunities because they are faced with funding two full sets of benefits. In job-sharing, tasks are assigned to two people, both of whom are responsible for completing them, an approach that involves a lot of communication. In job-splitting, the tasks are divided into separate elements, with each person responsible for a specific set.

• Stopping the clock. McClain is exploring the possibility of codifying the exceptions for which the tenure clock can be stopped more than once, and noted that it is a possibility and can be requested.

• Recruitment and dual careers. This is another area in which McClain has had personal experience, moving here with a husband who had held a job for 27 years. "It was very stressful. The Univer-sity does a good job in an environment that has no money for dual career funding, but it means beating the bushes. The key to change here is building a base of contacts in the community. We are too dependent on trying to place individuals in University positions.

"We don't have a slush fund to create jobs. Focusing on this issue becomes more critical as we step up our recruitment of women."

Susan Lipschutz works with faculty on this issue and Cindy Kabza is the liaison for staff.

• Grievance procedures. A review of faculty grievance procedures is in the early stages. The Conciliation and Consultation Service, headed by Sally Johnson with assistance from Don Perigo, has been established. McClain said this service currently is not available to address faculty and promotion issues, adding that she is exploring with legal counsel the possibility of including these areas. "This would be a precursor to a formal grievance," she explained. "You don't give up your rights to a grievance procedure."

McClain noted that the current staff grievance procedure "guarantees an adversarial situation. By its very nature it discourages resolution of problems. It is an industrial model that is not conducive to collegiality."

The conciliation service "is an alternative dispute resolution approach. Let's at least first talk, get to the core of reality. The outcome may not be win-win for both sides, but it will at least be agreeable."

McClain also wants a review of the staff grievance procedure to ensure that it provides for a fair hearing and clear resolution in a timely manner.

• Sexual harassment. Terri Gilbert has joined McClain's office to act as the single point-person for sexual harassment issues. In addition to maintaining a database of incidents, Gilbert will provide training and develop an educational program designed to raise awareness of the issues related to sexual harassment.

• Salary equity. McClain is concerned that the University "is not getting a good look at salary equity for both faculty and staff," and is in the process of hiring a compensation director.