A social media post by influencer and entrepreneur Brandi Riley read, “Thank you for your Black Lives Matter graphic. May I please see a picture of your executive leadership team and company board?” Higher education institutions, whether due to accreditation bodies or social pressure, all highlight the diversity of their campuses in admissions marketing collateral, but only look at the student body. What about the diversity of a university executive suite? Rather than one diversity officer, it is more important to have people of color across the boardroom, the classroom and the faculty. Part of the solution is to look at practices across an institution. It doesn’t cost money to assess one’s behavior, looking at the empirical data and making the necessary adjustments. For example, in recruiting, higher education institutions often use outdated methods, like classifieds in print newspapers, which result in non-diverse hiring pools. It is time to cast a wider net, using more targeted channels—websites, social media, and digital and print publications with a readership among the BIPOC community. By assessing where and how to recruit, we can improve our diversity without necessarily increasing our costs.
The Time Is Now In a recent letter to the Columbia University Teachers College community, President Thomas R. Bailey, Ph.D., wrote, “The battlefront isn’t simply a protest, march or petition, it can also be a classroom, or a community health clinic, or a food cooperative, a clinical trial, a standardized test design. Wherever we find ourselves at work, or in any interaction, that can be the place where we make change happen.” Everyone can do something. All of us are the change. We have a responsibility. We can all do something wherever we are. It is our job to go beyond the niceties and affect meaningful change. To quote noted inclusion strategist and thought leader Vern Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” As appeared in HRPS on August 13, 2020.