Commission on the Status of Women

CSW Strategic Plan: Accountability

Although ASU has many policies and programs in place that express support for diversity, affirmative action, equity for women, positive and balanced working and learning environments, and annual performance evaluations, there is a general sense that they are not systematically supported or enforced. "Opaqueness" was the term one participant used to describe accountability systems at ASU, particularly when it comes to ensuring accountability for an equitable and supportive environment. Such concerns as incompetent supervisors, abuses of supervisory power, lack of merit guidelines, minimal commitment to work/life balance, and failure to conduct annual performance evaluations are all aspects of the accountability problem.

Accountability has been identified as key to changing climate and culture. However, people need to know what they are being held accountable for. Performance management has long been recognized as an essential best practice for any organization, yet ASU has not clearly defined management and leadership competencies, nor has it defined consequences for failure to conduct performance evaluation or rewards for doing so. Thus, there are no guidelines with which to evaluate management and leadership performance, and little incentive to do so. The determination to create an effective accountability system that encompasses issues relevant to the status of women will ultimately determine whether the institution is successful in its effort to promote an equitable workplace climate.

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Issues regarding Accountability

  • Governance and decision-making
  • Lack of communication
  • Uneven policy implementation
  • Limited Voice of Service Professionals
  • Protection of in-group
  • Need for inclusive and transparent processes
  • College and department service expectations on women of color
  • Comparability of campuses
  • Managerial and supervisory evaluation
  • Managerial and supervisory tools
  • Lack of consequences

Recommendations for Accountability

  1. The President must make the climate for women and diversity a major pillar of his administration, with a specified action agenda and specific performance measures. Diversity should be seen as a universal responsibility for which all administrators will be held accountable.
  2. The President and all Provosts and Vice Presidents should publicly articulate the criteria (not the individual evaluations), including criteria for diversity and gender equity, upon which Chairs, Deans and Directors are evaluated.
  3. All annual performance reviews of unit heads should include criteria assessing support for diversity, including documented actions and results. Criteria should include such items as diversity of search pools, hiring, retention, career progression of faculty, professional development of staff, professional development of self, diversity programs, and unit climate assessment.
  4. All unit heads should be required to attend affirmative action, sexual harassment training, and management training. Chair differential pay should be dependent upon the completion of such training (described below).
  5. ABOR faculty personnel policy states that, "[c]riteria for merit awards must consider teaching effectiveness, research and scholarly growth activity, and professional/public service, and efforts to assist in the achievement of departmental and/or university affirmative action goals and minority student recruitment and retention goals" (emphasis added). Promotion and tenure criteria, and the evaluation of unit heads should reflect these elements as well.
  6. Clear, written benchmarks for performance expectations at time of hire should be developed. When changes are necessary, benchmarks should be adjusted and communicated accordingly.
  7. The President should initiate a revision of the performance management system. A revised performance management system should identify performance criteria based on key work skills and management competencies (where applicable). The management or leadership competencies should include competencies for managing a diverse and gendered workforce and for work/life balance. Further components of a performance management system may include:
    1. The development of a reciprocal evaluation system wherein employees have input into the evaluation of their supervisors;
    2. Guidelines and mechanisms to ensure the protection of confidentiality in units with small numbers of employees, to prevent retaliation, and to prevent misuse;
    3. Identification of consequences for failure to conduct performance evaluation; and
    4. Identification of mechanisms for improving deficient competencies.
  8. Unit heads should clarify and communicate their approach to issues such as flextime, family leave, job sharing, staff training, and other work/life issues.
  9. Create mechanisms for accountability in post-tenure evaluations of teaching. Research has shown that factors such as the gender, race, or ethnicity of the professor and the content of the course bias student evaluations of teaching. These factors must be taken into account in any review of faculty teaching.
  10. Training for diversity should include a discussion of subtle discrimination, gender bias, and strategies for diversifying units. This training should have a strong emphasis on practical, hands-on strategies for problem solving and the use of diversity as an asset.
  11. Better data on student, staff, and faculty parents needs to be collected. For example, what percentage of each category are parents? How does being a parent affect working and learning? What benefits and services would best enhance work-school/family balance and working and learning excellence?