The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

5 CHROs Use CUPA-HR’s DEI Maturity Index to Energize Their DEI Efforts

Higher ed institutions know how critical it is to have a diverse workforce, equitable hiring and compensation practices, and an inclusive work environment for all. Yet this work can be daunting for HR teams who don’t know where to start. After all, improving DEI for faculty and staff doesn’t have a one-time quick-fix solution — it’s an ongoing commitment that requires thought, planning and intention.

The DEI Maturity Index, sponsored by Segal, is a powerful tool to help identify areas that need more attention at your institution. The tool helps you measure your institution’s progress in five areas of workforce DEI efforts: communication and education; assessment; culture; investment and infrastructure; and compensation, recruitment and retention.

Based on how you rate your institution’s efforts in each area, the index provides scores that highlight strengths and weaknesses. Then, it suggests actions that can be taken to achieve progress in weaker areas as well as resources to support those actions.

Here’s how several chief HR officers have used the assessment to jumpstart and energize DEI efforts and initiatives at their institutions:

  • Madelyn Brown, director of human resources at Gordon State College, used the five broad areas of the index to develop a report of recommendations presented to the college president.

“I am co-chairing Gordon State’s President’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which was commissioned last summer. We used the maturity index to assess where we are now, and help us create recommendations and benchmarks for our report. We made the tool available to all commission members, since each of us has a different perspective. We loved that each person who took the assessment received results based on their perspective. We also valued the questions asked on the assessment as much as the recommendations, as both helped us know specific areas on which to focus. The five broad areas used in the maturity index will also be reflected in our report, and we plan to recommend taking the assessment on an annual basis to track our progress. We are in the infancy stages now, but are excited about presenting our report and the college initiatives that will follow.”

  • Kristi Darr, vice president of human resources at Iowa State University, used the index as the focal point for a professional development workshop and will host workshops throughout the year.

“In the pandemic, we were searching for a different activity that we could facilitate to keep everyone focused around DEI development during these times. I shared with the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion this tool, and we worked to figure out how we could adapt it to the [DEI] group. For areas where we score low or feel like the group may want discussions, we will host workshops throughout the calendar year to educate on what various areas are doing and potential action items. Following our education, we plan to re-administer the exercise and see how our scores move. In general, we may re-administer it every two to three years to see where we might need to focus info, or as the makeup of the group changes in order to keep everyone up to speed.”

  • Jamee Harrington, chief human resources officer at Rogue Community College, used the index to help develop a plan for progress in policies/procedures/practices, developed a search advocate program and created a DEI department.

“We used the DEI Maturity Index in 2019 to help us assess our efforts and develop a plan/steps for meaningful progress toward a diverse workforce, equitable practices, and an inclusive work environment for all. The ratings were completed by HR as part of the strategic planning cycle and presented to the entire college during an annual in-service meeting. We focused on three primary areas/goals that we felt would influence multiple areas of the index. The areas were policies/procedures/practices, developing a search advocate program, and consideration for DEI as a dedicated functional area of the college.

“Since that time, we have created a DEI department and hired a full-time employee to lead the work. This department reports to the me (CHRO). We’ve also implemented a search advocate program, created policies and procedures that affirm the institution’s commitment to DEI, added cultural competency requirements to employee performance evaluations, and more.”

  • Robert Link, director of human resources at the University of Findlay uses the tool as an annual metric to benchmark against to track incremental change.

“The University of Findlay (UF) completed the CUPA-HR DEI Maturity Index to assist us in setting an annual metric to assist us in benchmarking year-over-year progress. The University of Findlay had the following individuals participate in the completion of the CUPA-HR DEI Maturity Index:

  • Director of Human Resources
  • Associate Vice President for International, Intercultural, and Service Engagement
  • Director for Equity & Title IX, Title IX Coordinator
  • Director of Accommodation and Academic Support Center
  • Director of Intercultural Student Services
  • Professor of English and Director of the Center for Teaching and Program Excellence

“The above group will be joining me to discuss the results of the maturity index with the expectation of discussion and commitment to assist with moving forward UF’s commitment for belonging.”

  • John Whelan, vice president for human resources at Indiana University (IU), used the tool as an eye-opener that led to the creation of a DEI taskforce.

“I shared this tool a couple years ago with my HR Steering Team — comprised of the top 25 HR leaders from all of the campuses, large schools, as well as the leaders of our centers of expertise like Compensation, Benefits, Organizational Development, Talent Acquisition, Employee Relation, and HR Operations.

“We all completed this prior to one of our monthly meetings and we discussed some of our observations about our results. I specifically did not ask anyone to share their results, but simply asked them for reactions. It was clear that we all had a lot to do to better understand IU’s mission statement on diversity and all of the various resources available. The general reaction was that this served as an eye-opener. Indirectly, it led to me creating a DEI taskforce to help HR people better understand the various DEI roles throughout IU and how HR can better partner with them.”

The DEI Maturity Index is a free resource that can be used as often as needed by individuals or teams on your campus who are familiar with your institution’s DEI efforts. Learn more about the index.