Campus News Society & Culture

Women’s Leadership Initiative emphasizes hiring, career development and work-life balance

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia is rolling out its Women’s Leadership Initiative with new policies and programs related to recruitment, hiring and retention, leadership and career development, and work-life balance.

The percentage of women holding leadership positions in UGA’s administration has remained flat for more than a decade, even as the proportion of female faculty has grown steadily. This is reflective of national trends in higher education and in the private sector, and UGA is taking several steps to increase the representation of women in leadership roles.

In spring 2015, UGA President Jere W. Morehead and Provost Pamela Whitten launched the Women’s Leadership Initiative. Whitten charged a 10-member planning committee with assessing what barriers were preventing the university from developing, recruiting and hiring qualified women for campus leadership positions. The committee identified three areas of focus where reimagined policies and targeted programming could advance gender equity at UGA.

“The new policies and programs that will be implemented through the Women’s Leadership Initiative demonstrate the university’s strong commitment to gender equity,” Morehead said. “I am pleased that this important initiative is moving forward in concrete ways that will enhance leadership opportunities for women on campus.”

Recruitment, Hiring and Retention
To address the recruitment, hiring and retention of women, the university will formally define and integrate its practices for recruiting and hiring women. From the outset of every search process, encouraging the successful recruitment of a diverse, qualified talent pool and documenting these efforts will be standard practice as units work with the Office of Faculty Affairs. As a result, search committees will be more actively engaged in the recruitment of women candidates.

The Office of Faculty Affairs, in partnership with Human Resources, will train administrators with hiring authority, as well as search committee chairs, on the new requirements and best practices for minimizing bias and encouraging diversity in hiring. The recommended practices will be supported by online guides that include information on advertising open positions, suggested content for position descriptions and the charge given to search committees, and managing confidentiality, references and feedback.

Leadership and Career Development
To support the career development of women, UGA will launch the Women’s Leadership Fellows program, which will offer a selected group of faculty a yearlong series of seminars, discussions and workshops on leadership development and early exposure to administrative training in budgets and finance, fundraising, change management and legal affairs. Women’s Leadership Fellows will network with senior administrators on campus, as well as with visiting speakers from academia, business and other fields, and the program will feature an annual retreat as a forum for more in-depth learning. Fellows will be tenured, clinical or public service faculty who are nominated by their deans or other senior administrators for their leadership potential. A selection committee appointed by the provost will identify up to 10 Fellows annually for the program.

UGA also is launching a campus-wide development series aimed at early-career faculty who may be unfamiliar with administrative roles and opportunities.

Finally, the university is providing a series of Women’s Leadership Lectures for the entire campus that will focus on unique gender-based challenges. Focused on leadership and career development, the series will bring provocative speakers to campus and delve into opportunities in higher education to address timely issues related to women.

Work-Life Balance
To promote work-life balance, UGA Human Resources is piloting a new staff position to develop a hub of work-life balance resources and assist faculty and staff seeking advice. The Work-Life Resources Coordinator will serve as the point of contact on campus to help university employees productively address concerns about work-life balance. Human Resources also will create an easily accessible online resource with information on the programs and services the university offers to promote work-life balance. Information on child care, wellness programs, telecommuting and leave policies will be consolidated in a centralized resource.

“The Women’s Leadership Initiative marks a turning point in how the University of Georgia attracts, retains and advances its faculty, staff and administrators,” Whitten said. “We are putting into place a set of policies and resources to ensure that the gates of opportunity remain open for everyone.”