About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 5, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 20
DLC Looks at Workplace Satisfaction

Responses to first Diversity Climate Survey presented to leadership

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

A recently completed internal study has shown that workplace satisfaction at Johns Hopkins is somewhat in the eye of the beholder.

In March 2006, the Johns Hopkins Diversity Leadership Council launched the JHU Institutions Diversity Climate Survey. Four versions of the survey, the first of its kind at Johns Hopkins, were created, tailored specifically to the School of Medicine, the Applied Physics Laboratory, other university divisions and the Johns Hopkins Health System in order to capture information specific to that employee population.

More than 8,000 of the 13,000 employees queried responded to the surveys, which featured between 40 and 50 statements and questions related to workplace satisfaction.

Last fall, the DLC Climate Committee completed the initial analysis of the survey data, which showed that women and ethnic minorities, especially African-Americans, have a different and somewhat less positive work experience than white males.

The findings and preliminary recommendations of the Diversity Leadership Council have since been presented to President William R. Brody and to various deans and directors.

James Calvin, chair of the DLC Climate Survey Committee and associate professor in the Department of Management in the Carey Business School, said that the results of this study provide both a snapshot of the workplace climate and a starting point for a continued dialogue on diversity issues.

"Our hope and real expectation is that the deans and leadership of the various divisions will examine the results, make their own assessments and then engage faculty and staff to determine how to move forward," Calvin said.

In the examination of the survey results, the committee highlighted 12 statements and questions to get a representative look at the current climate for employees.

For statements, participants were asked to respond on a scale from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree." For questions, par-ticipants might have been asked to answer on a scale of "very satisfied" to "not satisfied."

The data, Calvin said, suggested that African-Americans respondents are much less satisfied with the workplace environment. For example, when asked to respond to the statement "My colleagues treat me with civility," 77 percent of respondents overall agreed or strongly agreed, but only 50 percent of African-American respondents answered favorably. When asked, "Overall, how satisfied are you with the climate at your school/division?" 73 percent of white respondents answered "satisfied" or "very satisfied," as compared to only 35 percent of African-American respondents.

The survey also showed that a higher percentage of men of all ethnicities selected "very satisfied" and "strongly agree" responses, whereas women responded with less affirmative "satisfied" or "agree" to many of the same questions and statements.

The survey also showed relatively low favorable responses, across the board, to such statements as, "Workplace policies, practices and procedures are applied consistently at JHU." To this statement, only 45 percent of respondents overall answered "agree" or "strongly agree," including only 28 percent of Latinos. The numbers of positive responses, however, were significantly higher in all categories when this same question was asked to School of Medicine employees, who overall responded more favorably to the survey.

In response to all the findings, the DLC recommended that deans and directors conduct "focus groups" in their units during the current year to better understand their employees' responses to the climate survey. A desired future outcome is the development and implementation of effective strategies in the units that lead to an improved workplace climate. In this vein, the committee also recommended that the university establish a requirement that all undergraduates complete at least one course that explores the complexity of ethnicity, culture and pluralism, a recommendation modeled after the award-winning America Cultures Program at the University of California at Berkeley.

In addition to these recommendations, the DLC expressed strong support for two recent university initiatives, diversity training and the adoption of the Statement of Principles for Ensuring Equity, Civility and Respect for All, which was originally proposed by the University Committee on the Status of Women and brought to the forefront following a Johns Hopkins fraternity's Halloween party whose invitation invoked offensive racial stereotyping.

Calvin said that the DLC anticipates that more recommendations will be presented to university leadership following further examination of the survey on the divisional and departmental levels.

"This is a starting point. Hopefully, the focus groups that are created will offer more strategies and initiatives that, within the school and perhaps throughout the Johns Hopkins Institutions, will seek to improve the workplace climate and make it more responsive, supportive and healthier," he said. "When faced with such disparities among ethnicities that this survey displayed, we need our leadership and people to ask, Why is this happening? and What can we do to make it better? The DLC plans to be very active in an effort to continue this dialogue."

Longer term, Calvin said that the DLC plans to conduct a follow-up climate survey within two to three years in order to assess the effectiveness of measures taken from this point forward.

The DLC was formed in 1997 and is composed of students, faculty and staff from all divisions throughout Johns Hopkins. One of its primary missions is to examine formal and informal structures and processes that inhibit Johns Hopkins Institutions from being more inclusive and to recommend changes that foster greater inclusion.

To see more results from the survey, go to


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |