Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Standards for a Diversity Leader

Assistant provost for diversity. Assistant to the president for institutional diversity and equity. Vice president for inclusion and multicultural engagement. Whatever institutions choose to call them, chief diversity officers are one of the fastest-growing administrative positions. Charged with promoting diversity among faculty and staff in a less compliance-based manner than their equal opportunity counterparts, many of these officers are the first to hold such positions at their colleges and universities -- or are the first to hold such positions as they have been elevated in the college hierarchy.

So while lots of chief diversity officers are highly qualified, the pioneering nature of their work has made for some inconsistency in their backgrounds and how they do the job. But it’s something the profession is working to address, including through forthcoming standards about what makes an effective chief diversity officer.
“We have seen announcements of selections for chief diversity officers in which we’ve failed to see any connection to or background in diversity or equal opportunity,” said Shirley Wilcher, executive director of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (formerly the American Association for Affirmative Action). “If they’re there to simply put a face on one’s diversity policy, then I guess it doesn’t matter what one’s field is."

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