Human Resources

Advisory Committee on Work-Life

UW Human Resources is committed to ensuring all employees are welcome, supported and able to achieve their full potential. Work-life initiatives support this vision by helping employees navigate life changes so they can be successful at work and find support for their personal needs and goals. Established in 2021, the Advisory Committee on Work-Life engages the diverse experiences and ideas of the UW community to improve the work-life culture at the University.

Please send questions about the UW Advisory Committee on Work-life to

Purpose and charge

The UW Advisory Committee on Work-Life (COWL) advises the vice president for Human Resources about ways the University can help faculty, staff and students navigate their life roles and changes so they manage their personal and family needs while meeting the requirements and responsibilities of their jobs.

COWL does this by elevating work-life opportunities and issues for consideration by UW leaders and/or consulting to enhance UWHR Work-Life’s ongoing planning and assessment. Specifically, the committee is charged with the following:

Contributing experience and knowledge about work-life topics (e.g. child care, elder care, parenting, gender roles, workplace culture) and knowledge of work-life resources and best practices.

Ensuring the University’s work-life initiatives account for the diverse needs and experiences of UW’s employees and managers by utilizing data from related UW assessment efforts, advising on UWHR surveys and focus groups as needed and hosting listening sessions with UW employee groups, committees and/or offices who may have insight about employees’ and managers’ needs and experiences.

Advising how UW’s work-life resources can support and sustain diversity and equity, consistent with UW’s race and equity initiative.

COWL will meet at least once during autumn, winter and spring quarters and may meet more frequently if specific projects require.

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COWL includes up to 14 faculty, staff and graduate students with expertise to positively shape work-life at the University. Members will serve two-year terms with the opportunity to renew one-time for four-years of consecutive service. To stagger committee transitions, during COWL’s first year up to one-half of the representatives may opt for three year terms and will remain eligible for a one-time, two-year renewal.

Up to eight representatives are designated because they bring experience and knowledge related to work-life topics such as child care, adult and elder care, parenting support, caregiver well-being, organizational assessment and change, gender in the workplace and race and equity in the workplace. These individuals are identified through an application process. Members will be appointed by the vice president for Human Resources to provide insight about the diversity of work-life topics and to maximize representation from across organizational units and employment types. If insufficient nominations are received the vice president for Human Resources will appoint COWL representatives.

Four representatives – one each from UW Bothell and UW Tacoma, and two from UW Medicine – will be appointed to contribute knowledge about initiatives and/or culture that may shape COWL’s strategy in these settings.

One representative from the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) – will be appointed to help COWLconsider the unique circumstances of employees whose positions are tied to their time-delimited academic training.

The Director of Work-Life will convene and chair the committee.

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Resources and support

UW Human Resources provides administrative support for COWL. As an advisory group, COWL does not have a budget but may be asked to advise the University about ways to invest resources that are available to support work-life.

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Application process

COWL is currently accepting applications for members who would start their service during winter quarter 2021. Click here to access the application form. The review of applications will begin on February 22.

The review team will recommend COWL members to the VP of Human Resources by prioritizing the following aspects of the committee as a whole:

(1) expertise on diversity of work-life issues
(2) diversity of positions within the University
(3) diversity of campus affiliations.

When multiple applicants share common characteristics related to expertise, position or campus affiliation, the review team will use the COWL application rubric to prioritize candidates for the VPHR’s consideration.

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