The University of Iowa has extended its contract with Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. to begin the next stage of the employment practices review. The Des Moines law firm will complete a modified review of the university’s academic and operational units, as well as UI Health Care. The university is paring back the scope of the review in order to focus on the more immediate need of strengthening supervisor training.
“The review will continue, but we are redirecting some of our resources to developing a proactive training model,” says Cheryl Reardon, chief human resources officer and associate vice president. “This decision reflects the findings of the employment practices review thus far and the input we’ve received through the Working@Iowa and recent campus climate surveys.”
The review of UI Health Care and the university’s academic and operational units will include the following steps:
- Review results of university-administered surveys and assessments and identify areas of concern related to each unit.
- Review any concerns received from unit employees regarding practices related to equitable treatment.
- Interview human resources leads for each unit regarding areas of concern and unit-specific practices.
- Prepare a report with analysis and recommendations.
As Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., reviews each unit, employees will be invited by email to contact the project leader, Emily Pontius, to report concerns about the university’s employment practices.
History of the Employment Practices Review and next steps
Iowa hired Fredrickson & Byron, P.A., in late 2017 to review the university’s employment policies and practices. The first phase of the report recommended changes to the anti-harassment policy and some clarification of others. Human resources is currently working with shared governance to adopt the changes.
Phase two, which reviewed athletics department practices, did not uncover any inequitable treatment of applicants or employees on the basis of protected class, but included recommendations for additional training, which are being incorporated. This latest contract amendment with Fredrickson & Byron, P.A., runs through Dec. 31, 2020.
Moving to require supervisor training
In the meantime, University HR will develop campuswide supervisor training to ensure university policies are implemented more consistently and equitably. The goal is to have the new training designed this fall and completed by the approximately 3,500 faculty and staff supervisors within 12 months.
“The university competes for faculty and staff on a national level,” says Reardon. “Our university policies are strong, but building better leadership skills and supervisor competency is critical to ensuring we remain an inclusive and desirable place to work.”
Reardon says the training will focus on:
- Creating an equitable and inclusive team/culture;
- Engaging employees to maximize performance (e.g., aligning work to mission);
- Deploying best practices through performance management and coaching, including review of policies, procedures, and university resource; and
- Ensuring consistent HR practices in hiring, onboarding, compensation, documentation, etc.
“We understand that training will be a significant change for our campus,” says Reardon. “However, stakeholders, including Staff Council, Faculty Senate, and HR leaders across campus, are advocating for a more proactive process.”
HR is working to ensure the training provides a high quality curriculum with flexibility in delivery. Training will be available both online and in person, and HR will recognize a supervisor’s previous training that pertains to the focus areas. Representatives from Faculty Senate and Staff Council, as well as other campus experts, will participate in developing the training modules. Faculty from the College of Education also will help develop knowledge-assessment tools.