Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives in Education
January 12, 2021
By: Tiffanie Pierson
Having a diversity and inclusion initiative within school district organizations is an important way to address the current limitations and inequities of some school districts' educational leadership workforce composition and culture. However, simply having an initiative does not ensure its effectiveness.
Diversity efforts in the realm of education have many times failed to reach their goals in creating and sustaining real change. Rather they have been seen as futile attempts to ensure the right boxes were checked. To remedy this practice, it is vital that those in a position understand and implement best practices for attracting, hiring, and retaining diverse talent that represents the population served and the populations they wish to attract. To avoid such an approach, Human Resource (HR) leaders need to reacquaint themselves with the basics and ensure they approach any initiative with empathy. Additionally, HR could begin with a review of hiring and promotions across all levels of leadership for equity to identify areas that need improvement.
What is diversity and inclusion?
Holistically, diversity is composed of unique demographic perspectives. It is fortified by people respecting and appreciating what makes people unique, in relation to age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin. In an inclusive organization, these groups are respected, welcomed, and supported. An inclusive environment removes barriers to intolerance and discrimination.
What is a diversity and inclusion initiative?
Diversity and inclusion initiatives are the practices, strategies, and processes that organizations implement to establish and support diversity and inclusion, to achieve a competitive advantage. When a school district creates a diverse and inclusive environment, the organization will be more adaptable, creative, and can thrive which will attract top talent.
Benefits of diversity and inclusion
To foster real change, leaders within the organization need to buy into belonging from the staff — both intellectually and emotionally. A portion of this process requires being attuned to empathy; each person recalling a time or instance when they were ostracized, embarrassed, interrupted, etc., so they can apply those lessons.
A diverse workplace offers an array of benefits
An increase in productivity and performance
Improvement in employee engagement
More creativity and innovation
Better organization reputation
Creating a diversity and inclusion initiative, for any organization, that is effective and sustainable is no easy feat, however, having best practices and strategies in place, increases the likelihood of success. The following best practices are examples to start an initiative in your organization.
Have empathetic leadership
Provide diversity and inclusion training
Establish a sense of belonging for everyone
Focus on teamwork and collaboration
Ensure equal access to opportunity
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a vital professional practice that high-performing organizations highlight — constructing environments that help their employees thrive.
By implementing at least a few of the strategies stated above, organizations will open themselves up to have a major competitive advantage.