Policy Review, Modification and Adoption

POLICY COMPONENT
The JSU ADVANCE Policy Component was designed for the review, modification, and adoption of institutional policies and procedures which impact the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in STEM and SBS disciplines. Research indicated that women faculty may be hindered in their career advancement by traditional policies that promote exclusionary networks. The Policy Component of the JSU Institutional Transformation Project sought to review existing policies to identify any potential institutional barriers or inequities inhibiting or limiting the advancement of women in STEM and SBS specifically policies related to: career-life balance policies as well as practices for recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion evaluation.

Purpose
The purpose of the Policy Component of JSU ADVANCE was to establish a proactive disposition regarding the assessment of university policies, procedures, and practices, which supports all aspects of diversity and ensures the greatest contributions from all members of the JSU community.

Audience
The Policy Component’s focus was on all employees of Jackson State University, specifically leaders at all administrative levels and faculty who are directly impacted by institutional policies.

 

DESIGN

  • Goal:
  • • The goal of the Policy Component is to transform the informal and formal culture of the university by establishing policies which ensure the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in STEM and SBS disciplines.

 

  • Objectives:
  • • To review, modify, and establish institutional policies, procedures, and/or practices in order to sustain the advancement of female STEM-SBS faculty at JSU.

 

  • Activities:
  • • Conducted in-depth review of policies at other NSF ADVANCE institutions that could be potentially adopted at Jackson State University.
  • • Conducted internal review of Jackson State University’s policies identifying those which impact faculty, particularly those that support or hinder the advancement of female faculty members in STEM and SBS disciplines, such as Tenure and Promotion Polices, and Hiring Policies.
  • • Established the Chief Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity Office and hired the 1st Chief Diversity Officer in 2012.
  • • Included Gender Equity and Implicit Bias Training as a part of the University’s Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training.
  • • Instituted Mandatory Search Committee Training.
  • • Created JSU’s 1st Strategic Plan for Diversity.
  • • Submitted the Annual Report to IHL for the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women.

 

EVALUATION

Significant Outcomes

  • Chief Diversity Officer
  •  
  • JSU’s first Chief Diversity Officer and EEO and Affirmative Action Coordinator was hired in the Fall of 2012. His appointment to the position is largely attributed to the results and reported outcomes resulting from several initiatives JSU ADVANCE has implemented since its inception. Since he joined the university, he has worked closely with JSU ADVANCE in accomplishing the bias goals set forth regarding creating a campus-wide conscious awareness of practices, policies, and behaviours that prevent the advancement of women. His diversity and inclusion plan for the university is developed using strategies based on his experience with JSU ADVANCE initiatives, which were designed by JSU ADVANCE leadership to achieve institutional transformation on the campus. Other initiatives proposed by the Chief Diversity Officer are also in response to needs brought to the awareness of the university by JSU ADVANCE Policy and Bias Component efforts, including, but not limited to, recruitment, hiring, and retention of a diverse workforce.

 

  • Mandatory Online Training Integrating Discussions on Gender Equity and Bias along with the Discussion on Sexual Harassment Laws
  •  
  • A mandatory online training centered on gender equity and bias was instituted. Prior to the Chief Diversity Officer’s arrival, JSU had a seminar-led sexual harassment training that was focused on strictly dealing with compliance with existing sexual harassment laws. JSU transitioned from that to a broader training that engaged the trainee in the broader discussion on gender discrimination and also protections within the workplace, helping foster a broader discussion among faculty, staff, and administrators on gender bias and discrimination in the academy.

 

  • Mandatory Search Committee Training
  •  
  • In the Fall of 2013, Mandatory Search Committee Training was implemented and institutionalized by the Chief Diversity Office. This training is conducted by the Chief Diversity Officer and the purpose of the training is to review the different stages in the search process, integrating diversity through each step, such as the job description, advertisement, and selection of applicants.

 

  • Report to IHL for the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women
  •  
  • Annually the Chief Diversity Officer submits a report through JSU’s governing board, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), to be included as part of the IHL Report to the Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women. This report addresses the success of JSU in regards to gender equity and provides information on challenges. One such challenge identified in the report relates to the tenure clock. The State of Mississippi establishes tenure clock policy and maternity leave policy. While this policy works well for staff members, it does not accommodate the needs of women faculty. JSU’s most recent report recommends an automatic extension of tenure clock for faculty for child birth and adoption. The current policy allows for one extension of time in the event of childbirth or adoption. An automatic extension will help alleviate the often negative stigma that may accompany a request for an extension of a tenure clock. The Chief Diversity Officers from a number of IHL Institutions met recently during the JSU ADVANCE Implicit Bias Think Tank to discuss these policy limitations which must be modified on the State level. This work continues.

 
 
LESSONS LEARNED

  • • Initiating policy modifications requires buy-in and collaboration from all stake-holders: faculty, specifically the Faculty Senate, institutional leaders, the leaders at our partner institutions who are also impacted by the policies, and of course our state level governing bodies—Institutions of Higher Learning–who ultimately must approve all institutional policies especially those related to tenure-promotion and the tenure clock
  • • Educating stake-holders regarding relevant policy changes that could positively impact the entire campus community while simultaneously contributing to a more equitable, diverse, and family-friendly work place for underrepresented women is a crucial part of building support for policy changes. Occasional papers written and published in campus literature, disseminated via the JSU Blast or faculty e-mail system are one option for those interested in raising awareness. Sessions during Faculty/Staff Seminar on Institutional Policies are another option for engaging faculty in dialogues about the policies that govern their scholarly community.
  • • Policies that are within the realm of control of the institution must be enforced at all levels to ensure that the desired outcomes of the policy are manifested. Mandating search committee training is an important policy, but it is only impactful when systems are in place to ensure that the training is actually translating into equitable actions during the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process. Accountability is key in policy modification.
  • • More work needs to be done in terms of evaluating the short and long-term impact of policies designed to foster a more equitable and diverse work environment.
  • • We have observed an increased awareness of implicit bias and gender bias at JSU, particularly with respect to hiring, overall workforce demographics, and work-life balance. We still must determine the best way to measure the impact and sustain a continued impact.