In 2000, I worked as a diverse recruiter for a Fortune 100 company. Our marching order is to let our company’s demographics reflect the communities around us, because my employer says that diversity is important. Ten years later, in 2010, when I was transitioning to higher education, I soon found myself participating in a minority student recruitment campaign, trying to encourage students of color to enter my institution because we told ourselves that diversity is important.

Then, after another ten years, in 2020 I saw-and continue to see-countless job postings for chief diversity officers from colleges and universities across the country seem to once again show that diversity is important. In fact, after George Floyd, Brenna Taylor, Sandra Brand, Ahmed Abery, Kathy Goodson and countless other senseless killings, the Academy and University presidents usually make statements to their voters, condemning these behaviors and declaring to the world that they care and wholeheartedly believe that diversity is important.

So why after so many years and decades, we still claim that diversity is important, but we seem to see very little substantial and sustained progress? Because we failed to solve the problem strategically and focused on injecting diversity, fairness, and inclusiveness into the structure of the organization.

Simply hiring a chief diversity officer has never been – and will never – be enough. We need to do more. Believe it or not, it doesn’t need to spend anything extra, so saying “our budget can’t…” is not a reasonable response. In fact, if you take these three steps before hiring a chief diversity officer, I believe your organization will eventually start to do DEI better.

Participate in campus

The campus needs to pay attention to DEI’s efforts collectively, and the best way is to create a campus-wide DEI committee. It must include members of the vast majority of departments and academic units on the committee so that they can discuss campus issues and propose solutions, pass on best practice ideas to each other and to colleagues who are not on the committee, and ensure that planning and training efforts are collaborative , Rather than isolated, and less efficient. They can also be an important sounding board for leaders of institutions responsible for facing and addressing discrimination, prejudice, and institutionalized privileges, and for failing to ensure that these black, native, and African Americans have problems in enrollment, recruitment, and retention . BIPOC campus members feel a sense of belonging very early and often.

Involve executives

It is not enough for the chief diversity officer to sit at the senior leadership table. Providing the chief diversity officer with a budget and a professional team to work with colleagues and encouraging them to take DEI seriously is not enough. It is not enough to have multiple BIOC staff in senior leadership positions.

Such senior leaders need personally Invest In DEI programs and initiatives, one of the best ways to ensure that people receive personal investment is to hold them personally accountable. The president needs to require every senior leader to have at least one annual goal to improve DEI in his department—preferably multiple—whether it focuses on hiring more people, recruiting more students, creating and providing more More procedures, reduce the number of complaints related to bias, increase retention or GPA results, or any number of other initiatives. Then, the president must hold these leaders accountable for achieving and exceeding their goals.

Let me be clear: People’s annual salary will increase, and after many failed attempts, their job should depend on their ability to achieve and exceed these goals. When leaders are responsible for the results, they will work harder to push their direct reports to do more and do better. Therefore, in fact, positive changes will definitely take place.

Participate in the board of directors

Just as the president should ask agency leaders to set and achieve goals, the board should ask the president to do the same. The President’s failure to push DEI forward means that he failed to move towards the goal we’ve been talking about, but did not achieve a goal longer than I have lived: a campus community that reflects society and values ​​everyone’s contribution, no matter what Their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religious background, physical limitations, or any other constant characteristics often prompt certain parts of our campus to abuse others rather than accept their differences. In addition, the board of directors should have a committee dedicated to DEI, or the board’s executive committee should have a subcommittee to evaluate institutional efforts in this area and recommend changes to achieve improved results.

Higher education flourishes in a world of shared governance. By sharing responsibility for DEI results across the entire campus—especially among the college-wide committees filled with faculty, staff and student members—and among some subsets of senior leadership, the president, and the board of directors, we Finally, DEI can be made better. Then, and only then, should we hire the Chief Diversity Officer and empower them to control and improve what is built, instead of asking them the impossible: moving an unshakable and unmotivated object to an elusive The goal.

Only these three budget-neutral steps can play an important role. Now that you know better and realize that these steps are available, take them-and perform DEI better.

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