Diversity & Inclusion in Education

Diversity & Inclusion in Education

Diversity and inclusion are topics that impact nearly every aspect of an educational institution. From enrollment to board composition to faculty, staff and alumni, demonstrating your institution’s commitment to the value of diversity is more critical than ever before. 

The topic of diversity is one that should be addressed directly. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked a worldwide conversation on racism and equality as protests have become commonplace in cities across the globe.  As society and the world continue to evolve and change, institutional changes may need to take place.

Equity Audits

At this unprecedented point in history, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the topic of diversity. This is a challenging task for any institution and is one that should be carefully crafted to meet the unique needs of the institution. 

In order to find areas of improvement for your institution, it may be worth considering performing an equity audit. An equity audit, as highlighted in an article from Inside Higher Ed, is a comprehensive evaluation of inequities which serves as a benchmarking tool to address disparities in educational systems. An equity audit can help institutions find what they are doing to help their students achieve desired outcomes and what they can do to improve. 

Steps To Consider

In order to promote diversity at your institution, you can implement anything from on-campus enhancements and wide-sweeping administrative changes. Below are some steps that other institutions across the country are taking to promote diversity on their campuses:

  • A number of colleges have established a Chief Diversity Officer role, a board member who holds departments accountable for being inclusive. An article from Inside Higher Ed highlights community colleges establishing this role as well as additional steps schools are taking.
  • The University of Michigan established a five year plan to address the topic of diversity in 2018. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan includes 49 individualized plans for departments across the university. The plan also includes increased outreach to k-12 schools through its “Wolverine Pathways” program, which offers tuition scholarships to underrepresented minority groups as well as new investments in urban schools and underrepresented populations.
  • Penn State University has made a $10 million commitment to scholarships that will support diversity across the entire institution. The plan includes establishing a George Floyd Memorial scholarship as well as a scholarship-match program.
  • A number of higher education institutions have an established Office of Diversity & Inclusion in place. These office’s websites include resources for all members of the campus community including support groups as well as methods for reporting acts of discrimination or violence to the University.
  • Towson University’s Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity has established a list of campus-wide goals and accomplishments which is updated each semester. This list helps the school track its progress in the pursuit of a more diverse and inclusive campus culture.
  • Stanford University professor Shelley Correll has developed a strategy for organizational change called “Small Wins.” Outlined in an article from Inside Higher Ed, the strategy includes small steps institutions can make in order to foster inclusion. 
  • In k-12 institutions across the country, districts have established an Office of Equity. Portland Public Schools in Portland, Oregon established this office in 2011, which analyzes the impact of race on achievement outcomes by the state board of education. An article from Insight To Diversity highlights some of these offices as well as other initiatives and training programs for teachers.
  • The University of Vermont is the first institution to allow students to enter their preferred pronouns into campus data systems. 
  • The University of Albany offers its students a broader array of cuisine options for the international student population.

Ultimately, only your institution can decide what is right for your population. While these steps are examples of what others are doing to address diversity at their respective institutions, campus-wide initiatives should be tailored to meet the institution and local community’s unique needs. 

RCM&D Is Here To Help

RCM&D is here to help you ensure stability in today’s changing landscape. Our Education Practice is here to help you navigate best practices and ensure the safety and well-being of your students, faculty and staff while maintaining the operational efficiency of your institution. Our Risk Control and Safety team are available to help you assess any physical or compliance-related risks and develop comprehensive plans for mitigation.