October 11, 2007

Univ. Receives High Marks From AARP, Working Mothers

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Once again, Cornell has received recognition both from the American Association of Retired Persons and Working Mother Magazine for its workplace environment. This is the third consecutive year that Cornell was placed on the AARP’s list of “Best Employers for Workers over 50” and the second time Working Mother magazine placed Cornell on the “100 Best Companies” for working mothers.
The AARP ranked Cornell 24th on a list of the top 50 companies to work for.
Marguerite Spencer, a diversity communications strategist in Cornell’s office of Human Resources, provided information compiled by the University which explained that the seven key categories considered were recruiting practices, workplace culture, continued opportunities, benefits, retiree work opportunities, organization statistics and innovative practices.
The three factors on which Cornell scored especially highly by the AARP included the workplace culture, employee benefits and opportunities of retirees.
Cornell scored highly in these areas because the University offers many pre-retirement training programs that employees can take advantage of, including planning for elder care, investing and health and wellness. Additionally, Cornell employees receive tax-deferred retirement plans and have opportunities to enroll in or audit up to six credits per semester at no charge, obtain special parking privileges and become automatic members of the Cornell Retirees Association.
Cornell statistics show that 45 percent of Cornell faculty and 18 percent of nonacademic staff are 55 or older, a majority having worked at Cornell for more than six years.
The Working Mother magazine, which recognized Cornell as one of the 100 best companies for working mothers, also examined seven specific areas of Cornell employment life.
Kate Fleming, a public relations representative for Working Mother magazine, said that “the magazine’s seven areas of focus were workforce profile regarding how many women there are, compensation, child care, flexibility, time off and leaves, family friendly programs and company culture.”
Fleming noted that particular weight was given to flexibility and family-friendly programs since these are deemed most critical for working mothers by the magazine.
Spencer also shared the main reasons why Cornell believes it was placed on Working Mother’s “100 Best Companies” list. Cornell helps to cover the high cost of childcare with a subsidy of up to $5,000 for in-home care, summer camps, and other child-care programs. Also, new mothers receive 22 weeks off for maternity leave, including ten weeks of partial pay. New fathers receive four weeks of partially-paid time off.
Additionally, flexibility in job opportunities played an important role in the ranking since employees can take advantage of flextime schedules, job-sharing, work at home or part-year options.
According to Cornell, roughly 50 percent of Cornell faculty and staff are women, and of the female staff, 52 percent are in leadership positions.
Carol Trudeau-Grace, a female Cornell employee who works at Olin Café, thought it was fantastic that Cornell was placed on the Working Mother’s magazine “100 Best Companies” List. As a working mother, Trudeau-Grace could easily understand why the magazine chose to give the award to Cornell.
“This is definitely the best job I’ve had as far as benefits and I love working here,” Trudeau-Grace said. “It’s a great place to be since there are so many nice people, and I love the diversity.”
While Trudeau-Grace has two children, an eight- and ten-year- old, she admitted that she does not fully take advantage of all the childcare benefits Cornell has to offer. Since she lives 45 minutes away and her children are in school, she cannot benefit from the programs to the same extent as other University employees. Nevertheless, Trudeau-Grace said she thinks the programs are great for those working mothers who are in need of childcare, especially mothers with younger children.
The Working Mother magazine’s “100 Best Companies” list is intended for working mothers. Still, Fleming argued that the list is really applicable to both men and women since the same issues are pertinent to both mothers and fathers.
“Family is family and men have families too. Men can most certainly take advantage of a company’s family-friendly policies, not just women,” she said. “Since generally women take the brunt of childcare, many policies are aimed at women, but men may have to deal with these issues also, especially if family plays a role in their lives.”