A Response to the Indiana University Professional Employee Salary Equity Review

Prepared by the Indiana University Bloomington Professional Council



Preface:

The Indiana University Bloomington Professional Council (BPC) represents and provides leadership for all professional employees working on the Bloomington campus. The mission of the BPC includes providing information for staff members, advising the University administration, and providing an information exchange medium between the administration and professional staff. This document is written in the spirit of that mission.

During the academic year of 1999-2000, Indiana University conducted a salary equity review for professional staff, ostensibly based upon gender and ethnicity. The BPC applauds and thanks both the Trustees and the President for their worthy intentions. However, the design and execution of the equity review missed the opportunity to provide consistent and fair treatment. As a consequence, it failed to meet the expectations of many professional staff members and the BPC. As part of its obligation to the Bloomington professional staff, and in fulfillment of its advisory role to the administration, the BPC has drafted this document to provide an accounting of the process as it occurred on the Bloomington campus, and offer suggestions for improving future iterations.

Throughout the equity review process, the BPC received many anecdotal accounts of what was happening within committees and to professional staff. Some of these accounts are reported in this document. In an effort to be more thorough and accurate, the BPC also prepared a questionnaire (Appendix 1) that was delivered to each of the 24 Bloomington chairs of equity review committees upon completion of the review process. Thirteen of the chairs chose to complete and return the questionnaire. In addition, a web-based questionnaire (Appendix 2) was made available to all professional staff members seeking their experience with the equity review process. Much of the information in this document is based upon responses to those two questionnaires.

Background:

In 1998, President Brand and the Board of Trustees asked for a study to determine if any salary inequities existed among professional staff on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses attributable to issues of gender or ethnicity. A committee was created from various administrative positions to oversee the initial study. While outside consultants were considered for this project, the decision was made to conduct it internally. The committee enjoined the technical expertise of faculty and statisticians with the research design and interpretation of the statistical model. The model is reported to have taken the following nine variables into consideration: 1) rank, 2) gender; 3) years of service; 4) years as a professional; 5) years in rank; 6) ethnicity; 7) job census group; 8) labor market; and 9) responsibility center differences. For the Bloomington campus, the final regression model indicated no salary inequities based on ethnicity, and only a small inequity favoring males (3.5%). While this study and model indicated that little or no inequity existed, the decision was made to continue the study by pushing the task for evaluation and determination of inequities down to the responsibility centers (RCs).

The regression model identified 327 professional staff members whose salaries on July 1, 1999 were more than one standard deviation less than the salaries predicted by the model. Those persons were slated for additional review. Twenty-four groups, loosely based upon responsibility centers, were formed and asked to assign review committees that would continue the equity review process. Chairs of each committee were selected and given a general mandate and broad outline of the process to be followed. The chairs convened their committees that then determined the specific procedures that would be followed. The committees notified professional staff members in their group that had been identified by the regression model and began the review. Individuals who were not identified by the regression model, but felt that they may have suffered a salary inequity, were allowed the opportunity to "self-identify" their case for review. The notification and review procedures varied widely among the 24 review committees. Reviews were conducted using additional data gained in various ways, and recommendations for or against salary increases were made to the heads of the responsibility centers.

Bloomington Professional Council Response

The BPC was active early in the equity review process offering suggestions for consistent treatment of professionals, an adequate appeals process, and the provision of new monies to remedy inequities. These positions were published in a document provided to the administration and professional staff on January 5, 2000 (Appendix 3). While our suggestions were not entirely dismissed, their effect on the process and funding was limited. As such, our concerns and suggestions remain similar. Specifically we would like to address the following issues: 1) lack of consistency among review committees, 2) an inadequate appeals process, and 3) the absence of an adequate funding mechanism to insure remedy inequities that were not related to gender or ethnicity.

1) Lack of procedural consistency among review committees.

There may have been sound reasons for conducting the equity review process at the Responsibility Center (RC) level where theoretically the committee members are most informed about specifics of the unit's and individual employee's situation. In spite of this, the absence of centralized, uniform, written committee procedures resulted in uncertainty, inconsistencies and the possible exacerbation of existing inequities.

The lack of direction and procedural consistency surfaced in many ways. A memo was distributed to all professional staff from President Brand providing information about the salary equity study and the results, and indicated that the process was now to move to the RC review committees. Naturally, the vast majority of professional staff was interested and curious about their "place" in this process. Some review committees sent a letter to all professional staff in their RC explaining the review process and indicating if the recipient had or had not been identified by the process. In other RCs only those people who had been identified by the regression model were sent a letter. In still other RCs no letters were sent, but people identified were notified verbally by their human resources liaison. Anecdotally, some professional staff were actually discouraged by superiors from engaging the review process. As a consequence, many professional staff were left wondering if they were being considered and whether they should be "preparing" materials for review.

The way in which committees solicited additional information also proved inconsistent and in some cases was perceived as threatening. Some review committees simply asked those persons identified by the regression model to provide written information that might support their case. Other committees submitted questionnaires or conducted interviews with identified employees and/or their supervisors. At least one review committee required individuals to come before the committee and state their case. Although the committee members viewed this approach as providing an opportunity, some individuals reported to the BPC that they viewed this approach as intimidating and resented the fact that they had to build and personally plead a case when the system was charged with identifying inequities, not the individual employee. Four committee chairs even reported that individuals identified for review in their groups were not informed of what information to prepare for the review process.

Timing and deadlines also exacerbated the process. Given the lack of guidance for conducting the review process, some committees failed to provide adequate deadlines and instructions for staff identified for review, but also for those wishing to "self-identify" for consideration. The BPC received numerous questions from staff about what materials to prepare, and complaints about inadequate "lead time."

A great deal of confusion in the equity process centered on just who could be considered for an equity increase. The initial memo sent to review committee chairs called the study a "gender and equity" review and listed the Director, Office of Affirmative Action and the Director of Human Resources as sources of guidance. The memo failed to define what was meant by "gender and ethnicity". Some committee chairs reported that conversations with the people listed as sources of guidance led them to understand that they were to review all of the individuals within their group who either were identified by the regression model or self identified, regardless of their gender or ethnicity. Three of the respondents to the BPC questionnaire reported that they were asked to review professional staff only on the basis of "gender and ethnicity." Ten others reported that they were not. Some committee chairs received memos that emphasized, "gender and ethnicity are the only criteria that will be considered".

The regression model identified a large number of white men who fell at least one standard deviation below the predicted salary and many of these were consequently notified. Some white men received written notification from their review committee chair indicating that they were eligible for further review and asking them to provide additional information to support their case. In other groups, white men were informed that they had been identified, yet were told they were ineligible for additional review because this was a "gender and ethnicity" review. In some cases, review committees recommended that white men be given equity raises, while in other cases, review committees refused to even consider white men. This level of confusion and inconsistency in treatment was especially unfair for this group.

By placing the equity review at the RC level, the implication was that "comparable positions" for consideration could only come from within that RC. Hence, if an identified staff member were to make the case that a salary inequity exists they would have to find a similar position within that RC. This limitation was problematic on several fronts. First of the approximately 1,950 positions from Bloomington considered in the study, there were over 750 different jobs or job titles. Consequently, finding jobs, let alone job titles, of a comparable nature within the RC was incredibly difficult. Secondly, the RCs, on which the review committees were based, are by their nature budgetary groupings where a duplication of positions would be inefficient in many cases. Many middle management positions (i.e. directors, managers) identified by the study could not expect to find comparable positions within the RC. Another unfortunate twist to this limitation was that, in some cases, the review committees were comprised of amalgamations of various smaller departments and that made finding comparable positions even more difficult. The lack of uniform guidance was evident in this forum also. Two respondents to the BPC questionnaire reported that when reviewing professional staff they were asked to find comparable positions only within their responsibility center. Eleven others reported that they were not asked to compare positions only within their RC. Anecdotal information reported that some people being reviewed even helped support their case by comparing their position to similar positions at other institutions. The lack of clear procedure and guidance was best summed up by one of the committee chairs who commented in the questionnaire: "we had conflicting written and verbal instructions…If the administration had set out from the start to confound and confuse us they couldn't have done a better job."

A centralized process could have prevented the inconsistencies among the review committees. The scope of the review should have been stated in precise terminology with specific objectives, and the regression model designed with only those objectives in mind. There should have been a clear and consistently distributed definition of "gender and ethnicity" with delineation of any categories of employees who were ineligible for consideration because of that definition. A set of uniform and well-delineated campus-wide procedures should have been established, eliminating inconsistencies, easing the burden imposed upon the review committees, and making the entire process more equitable across campus.

2) Inadequate appeals process.

The appeals process for the gender-equity review failed in two ways 1) many professional staff reviewed were not told if, and how, they could appeal a decision and 2) a single individual was charged with examining appeals and recommending a final decision.

Several employees have asked the BPC how to appeal an equity review decision, suggesting that at least some of the employees reviewed were not informed of an appeal process and procedure. The BPC questionnaire explored this issue by asking committee chairs if staff identified by the process were "informed of an appeal process." Four of the 12 committee chairs who responded to that question answered "no", indicating that a third of the professional staff groups represented by the questionnaire responses were not informed of an appeal process. One committee chair reported anecdotally that the process did not even mention an appeals procedure until after that committee had completed its work, made recommendations to unit heads, and severed communication with people it was reviewing.

The appeals process did not offer broad enough consideration. The established procedure called for staff wanting to question their equity committee's decision to appeal to the Director, Office of Affirmative Action. It was the perception that this single individual reviewed the action of the committees and decided if employees seeking appeal were given fair and appropriate consideration. The BPC believes that the appeal procedure for a salary equity review decision warranted a more comprehensive process. Early in the review process BPC proposed the creation of a campus-wide appeals committee comprised of a broader representation. The administration denied this request although a similar body was constituted for the faculty salary equity review conducted years before.

The same structure should have been used for professional staff equity appeals.

3) Absence of an adequate funding mechanism.

The BPC remains troubled by a number of issues regarding the funding for this project. Given that professional staff salary equity review originated with the President and the Board of Trustees, it was not unreasonable to expect that funding should follow this mandate. In that way, the review committees could conduct their work on a level playing field without regard for the fiscal impact of their decisions on their RC. This was not the case. Instead, promises made by central administration for a central source of funding evolved into a patchwork mix of funding whereby different groups received differential treatment. In some circumstances central funding was provided for salary increases, but in other cases, funding these increases had become the responsibility of the individual RCs. The BPC finds this situation unfair and unacceptable.

Evidence suggests that the individual responsibility centers were required to fund a high percentage of the equity decisions considered. Thirteen committee chairs responding to the BPC survey indicated that they reviewed a total of 95 white females, 90 white males, 2 females of color and 3 males of color. The human resources regression model had identified 162 of the 190 reviewed cases reported. Assuming adjustments were to be based on gender or ethnicity, monies would have been provided for 53% of the cases considered requiring the individual responsibility centers to fund decisions made for the other 47% of the cases considered.

It could be argued that a chronic pattern of under-funding of responsibility centers resulted in many of the inequities that surfaced during this study. The campus sets annual guidelines for increases that allow modest salary increases and little room for significant salary adjustment. Existing low salaries, to some extent, have resulted from following those annual guidelines. Now placing the onus for salary adjustments on the responsibility centers for a large number of equity cases unfairly exacerbates an already difficult situation that central administration helped create. In an effort to meet the salary increases resulting from the equity review, many centers will fall even further behind in their ability to maintain fair salaries for other employees and continue to operate needed programs and services.

Similarly, central administration should have funded equity increases with "new money," not funds designated for FY2001 merit increases. The funding pool for centrally administered campus equity increases was established from the money approved for fiscal year 2001 salary increases before these adjustments were distributed. As a consequence, the overall campus-wide salary increase for all professional staff funded equity increases for selected individuals. Besides creating an unhealthy climate of "winners" and "losers", this approach simply places professional staff, as a category, further down the predicted salary scale.

Central funding of all equity decisions would have relieved the additional pressure on the centers. A central administration mandate instituted the equity study, a central administration regression model began the process, identified the core set of cases to be considered and set the expectation. It is only fitting that central administration funding remedy the inequities found with new money.

As mentioned earlier, faculty underwent a similar salary equity review for women and minorities and "new monies" were made available. The most recent salary review for faculty was unfunded because the earlier review was thought to have "leveled the playing field" thereby placing responsibility for any new inequities on the actions of the RC. The approach for professional staff salaries should have followed the same methodology.

Conclusion

The professional staff exercises an increasingly critical role in helping Indiana University function and achieve its goals. Our roles and duties are myriad, but nonetheless essential to enabling the mission of the university to happen. The salary equity study and review represented an instance when consideration and attention was placed exclusively on professional staff. As such, this "spotlight" became a barometer for evaluating the relative regard for professional staff in the university. Given due consideration to the fundamental issues of fair and uniform treatment, this review could have moved forward as an affirmation of the university's respect for professional staff. The issues enumerated in the body of this document were avoidable and correctable. This salary equity review could have, and should have, been conducted in a manner befitting the professional staff's position in the university.

As part of the mission of the BPC, this paper is provided to encourage the relevant exchange of information between professional staff and the administration. We hope that this document is closely read and vigorously debated to insure that future reviews are improved in both process and outcomes. We encourage the university administration to release its own evaluation of the equity review process which details the exact numbers of cases reviewed, adjustments made, and suggestions for improving future iterations.



Appendix 1



Dear Colleague,

As you know, Indiana University recently completed an Equity Review process for Professional Staff positions. The Professional Staff Council is preparing a white paper to summarize the process, and offer suggestions for future iterations. Your role as a review committee chair or co-chair makes your input very valuable to this endeavor. Please take the time to answer these survey questions and offer your comments on the salary equity review process. Your information will be aggregated with responses from other review committee chairs and every effort will be made to maintain anonymity.

This white paper will be forwarded to the university administration. We will also make this document available to all professional staff, and include a summary in a future BPC newsletter. Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey. Please send your completed survey to the BPC at iubpc@indiana.edu.

1. How many people were on your committee? _____ # of men______ # of women_____ How many were professional staff?

2. What was the committee charge? Submit copy if applicable.

3. Were you asked to review professional staff only on the basis of gender and ethnicity? Yes _____ No _____

4. Were you asked to review professional staff (for comparables) only within the responsibility center (RC)? Yes _____ No _____

5. Were all professional staff within your RC notified of the review committee and the process for self-identification? Yes _____ No _____

6. If yes, were professional staff members given a deadline for self-identification? Yes _____ No _____

7. Were identified professional staff (either HR study or self - identifiers) informed of what information to prepare for the review process? Yes _____ (please explain or list items) No _____

8. Describe the review process for your committee (i.e. did you conduct interviews, analyze information submitted by identified staff, evaluate documents gathered by the review committee).

9. The HR salary equity study identified how many professional staff members as being paid inequitably within your review committee's purview? _____

10. Of the professional staff cases (those who actually availed themselves) your committee considered, how many were: HR study identified _____ Self-identified _____

11. Of these cases, how many were: White males _____ White females _____ Males of color _____ Females of color _____

12. How many of the reviewed cases resulted in a committee recommendation for a salary adjustment? _____

13. What was the range of salary recommendations? From $_______ to $________

14. Were your recommendations approved? Yes _____ No _____

15. Were the professional staff who were identified informed of an appeal process? Yes _____ No _____

16. When were the salary increases expected to be implemented? _________________

What recommendations can you offer to improve the process?

Appendix 2



Dear Professional Staff Member,

Indiana University recently completed an Equity Review process for Professional Staff positions. The Professional Staff Council is surveying affected professional staff to obtain feedback about the process and how it can be improved for the future. This information will be forwarded to the university administration. We will also summarize our findings and include the summary in a future Bloomington Professional Council newsletter. Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey that follows.

1. Did you receive a letter from President Brand informing you of the Equity Review process? Yes ____ No ___

2. Did the university identify you as a professional that should be reviewed as a part of the equity review process? Yes ___ No ___ If yes, were you asked or did you request to have your name removed from the list? ___Yes (asked); ____Yes (requested); ___No If yes, why?

3. Were you aware of the self-identification process? Yes ___ No___

4. If so, did you self identify? Yes ___ No ___

5. Did your review committee notify you of their review process and timetable? Yes ___ No ___

6. Did the committee review you? Yes ___ No ___

7. Did your committee review both males and females? Yes ___ No ___

8. Were you asked to prepare a written justification for your equity review? Yes ___ No ___

9. If yes, what were you asked to supply?

10. Were you given any guidelines to assist in the preparation?

11. Were you asked to make a verbal presentation to the review committee? Yes ___ No ___

12. Were professional staff on the committee? Yes ___ No ___

13. Did you feel comfortable that the review committee staff would reach a decision fairly and objectively? Yes ____ No ____

14. If No, why not?

15. Were you compared to similar positions within your responsibility center? Yes ___ No ___

16. Were you compared to similar position outside your responsibility center? Yes ___ No ___

17. How long did you have between learning that you would be reviewed and having to meet the deadline for submitting the written material?

18. Were you notified of the committees decision? Yes ___ No ___

19. Did you receive a salary adjustment? Yes ___ No ___

20. Will you receive any retroactive pay? Yes ___ No ___

21. When will the salary adjustment take effect?

22. If you were not recommended for a salary adjustment, were you advised of an appeal process? Yes ___ No ___

23. If yes, what was the process for appeal and to who were you to appeal?

24. Did you/will you pursue the appeal process? Yes ___ No ___

25. Why or why not?

26. Additional comments about the Salary Equity Review Process



Appendix 3



TO: Distribution List

FROM: Bloomington Professional Council Executive Cmte. Todd Schmitz, President

RE: Salary Equity Review

DATE: January 5, 2000

The Bloomington Professional Council (BPC) applauds the efforts the university has made and continues to make in creating a positive, worthwhile, and equitable work environment for all employees. The recent salary equity study for professional staff is yet another example of that concern. We would however, like to make three recommendations to insure that the review process is viewed with an appropriate level of integrity and legitimacy. These suggestions relate to funding, the creation of a university-wide review committee, and the notification process.

Given that the impetus for this salary equity review originated with the President and was approved by the Board of Trustees, the lack of new monies earmarked to remedy inequities is troubling and deserves funding commensurate with this important initiative. The positive intention and message of this initiative is reduced by the lack of commitment to funding.

Placing the burden for funding on the responsibility centers (RCs) will exacerbate the differential "wealth" of the RCs and could lead to questions of integrity in the review process across RCs. We recognize that some RCs have been able to capture additional salary funds from various personnel circumstances (i.e. not filling vacancies); while others may find it necessary to reduce or withhold raises for other staff to remedy inequities. This may create a tension among "winners" and "losers" in the review process that may have a deleterious effect on morale.

Several years ago the faculty underwent a similar salary equity review for women and minorities and new monies were made available. The most recent salary review for faculty was unfunded because the earlier review was thought to have "leveled the playing field" thereby placing responsibility for any new inequities on the actions of the RC. The approach to professional staff salaries should be equally methodical.

The BPC would also like to suggest that a university-wide review committee be created to hear appeals and serve as an objective source for evaluating and reporting on the outcomes of the entire process. As the review process is currently conceived, a great deal of unchecked responsibility is placed upon the RCs to act with diligence and impartiality. While we have no reason to doubt the integrity of the RCs, from the perspective of an employee, the RC-based review committee can appear intimidating and constrained. This is especially true given the limits placed on finding comparable positions within the RC with which to judge possible inequities. As we all know and the study recognized, job titles and descriptions have proliferated and specialized over the years which makes comparability more difficult. A university-wide committee however, would be able to hear appeals and provide a broader perspective to the review process.

Finally, the BPC would like to have the RCs encouraged to contact all professional staff within their purview as to their status in the salary equity review. If an RC chooses to only contact identified individuals, there are many professional staff wondering about their circumstance. Moreover, notifying all staff about the review process will facilitate the course of action for those who wish to self identify. The BPC has received numerous contacts on this issue already and we would hope that this could be remedied quickly.

The BPC appreciates your willingness to give serious consideration to the suggestions enumerated above. We are also very prepared to assist with this process as it moves forward. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this further.



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