April 2, 2008

C.U. Ranked as a Top Company for Exec. Women

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The National Association for Female Executives has named Cornell as one of the nation’s top companies for executive women.
Cornell was the only university amongst NAFE’s top five non-profit organizations that won the award and was ranked third in the category. According to NAFE’s website, the awards were given to companies with a minimum of two women serving as executives that applied. The application focused on the number of women in senior ranks compared to the number of men and included questions about programs that support the advancement of women.
“The award was based on a number of factors [such as] the number of women on our board, the number of women in senior management positions and the number of women throughout the workforce,” said Lynette Chappell-Williams, director of the Office of Workforce Diversity, Equity and Life Quality.
According to Chappell-Williams, women comprise 52 percent of the University’s workforce and 50 percent of senior management positions. In addition, women hold 31 percent of Cornell’s executive positions and 27 percent of the Board of Trustees seats.
NAFE also looked at the kinds of Cornell programs that support women such as flexible work arrangements, childcare programs and training opportunities that allow for professional development.
According to Mary Opperman, vice president of human resources, the award is given to employers whose programs support women.
“I’ve been promoted since I’ve been here. I’m a working mom [and] I have two children. The programs here are very supportive. I’ve found that there have been a lot of opportunities for career growth,” Opperman said.
Cornell offers programs such as Flexplace, which allows workers to work flexible hours as long as employees work the appropriate number of hours per week. Chappell-Williams said that the adaptable working arrangements have been especially useful for her because they makes it much easier to balance work with family responsibilities.
According to Judicial Administrator Mary Beth Grant law ’88, as flextime, flexplace, childcare grants, summer camp and a new childcare center opening in the next year make it easier for women to balance work life with family.
“I also think that people really respect each other. In my work I need to make unpopular decisions at times but I always feel like colleagues respect differences of opinion too,” Grant said. “There is the ability to respect someone’s intelligence and judgment even if someone doesn’t necessarily agree with the particular way in which the problem is analyzed.”
In 2007, Cornell was named a best employer by Working Mother Magazine and by the American Association of Retired Persons. C.U. was also recognized as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender friendly campus by Campus Pride.
Additionally, the Dave Thomas Foundation counted Cornell as one of the top 100 Adoption-Friendly Workplaces, and in October Cornell was one of five organizations that won the U.S. Department of Labor Exemplary Voluntary Efforts’ award for its commitment to diversity.
Chappell-Williams attended the NAFE annual gala awards luncheon in New York City on March 27 to accept the award for the University. Cornell will be featured in the spring 2008 issue of NAFE’s magazine.