The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Being Stronger Together Means We Must Move Talk to Action

Like millions of Americans, my heart aches and I have no words to adequately express my anger, my sadness or my frustration regarding the recent events that have shaken our country. Members of our national board recently shared the following questions. How do we help our campuses become stronger as a result of this turmoil? How do we, as higher education leaders, help create unity, hope and support? How do we grapple with these tremendous challenges and become a resource to help others?

CUPA-HR’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is core to who we are, and it has been for many, many years. We have used our voice, and, more importantly, our actions to help campus leaders create and sustain a campus culture that welcomes, celebrates and fully engages people from different backgrounds and perspectives. The challenges we face today will not be solved by a series of discussions during which we listen to each other talk. It is critically important for these discussions to take place, but they must be supported by actions — not just a few actions that occur during the next couple of months, but ongoing actions that become part of the culture of our institutions. It also goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that our leaders must fully and wholeheartedly make this part of their personal work instead of just delegating it to others.

Keep Moving Forward

Moving talk to action. Many of us struggle to know where to start, so here are several actions to consider and free CUPA-HR resources to help:

  • Identify gaps in your institution’s systems and practices. We launched the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Maturity Index earlier this year to help campus teams define problems, measure progress and determine where they need to devote additional time and resources. Part of our call to action now is that we need to review our current work and frame it for the future. This cannot be a “one and done” effort, and it is not a challenge that goes away following a “quick fix.”
  • Facilitate meaningful conversations about race within your campus communities. We developed the Creating Inclusive Communities project to help initiate conversations regarding diversity and inclusion. Several of the stories focus on race and include short, powerful narratives and very easy-to-use facilitator discussion guides. These conversations are so important, especially as telework and furloughs feed feelings of isolation and anxiety.
  • Build more inclusive search processes. Our future discussions and actions will be strengthened by renewed efforts to recruit and retain more diverse candidates for all positions, but particularly for our campus leadership positions. The Building a Successful, More Inclusive Search resources will help you and your colleagues assess and build upon your current efforts.
  • Make representation and pay equity a priority. In recent years, CUPA-HR’s higher ed workforce research has identified gaps in representation and pay equity in administrative, faculty, professional and staff positions. Several free CUPA-HR research briefs offer data and insight into the people and positions most affected.
  • Learn from successful DEI efforts at other colleges and universities. Since 2014, CUPA-HR’s Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award has recognized the impactful DEI efforts of institutions across the country, including most recently Oregon Health & Science University’s Job Carving Program and Utah Valley University’s multi-year DEI strategic plan. The Higher Ed HR Magazine also features outstanding DEI work, such as Minneapolis College’s Equity Case for Competency-Based Hiring. Many of these efforts are driven or supported by HR.

Looking for more? The diversity, equity, and inclusion resource page on our website links to a wealth of resources, articles and blog posts.

Lead the Way

During the next several months, CUPA-HR will continue to prompt and facilitate dialog and action from our national, region and chapter board leaders. We will also do so for our staff and higher ed HR leaders across the country. As I personally try to understand the most recent incidents and their impact, I want to ensure that my voice and my actions reflect the good that I want to see reflected in others. I will continue to work to create the short-term and long-term change that must occur. I hope you will join me. Let’s get busy!