Diversity and inclusion were once buzzwords that had little resonance and real life implications for most entities. Although they still maintain that buzz real life implications have changed significantly and people have recognized the importance of this in industries across the board including in education. This has become an imperative for schools and DOE’s, public and private, from Kindergarten to universities, so much so many are finding it best practice to have an office of diversity and Inclusion on campus. The reasons for embracing an office of diversity and inclusion can vary from school to school but they’re a few that resonate in the majority of instances including but not limited to; a way for the school to keep it’s finger on the pulse of issues concerning diversity and inclusion, also create a safe space for students. In addition every study and authority in the shifting demographics of this country all agree that the future is in multiculturalism and a diverse population and with so much competition in the field on every level separating yourself in a positive light from the other schools can show returns when considering student recruitment.
1. Finger on the pulse.
We’ve seen this play out in a number of ways in the last few years not only in education but in other sectors as well. There’s an incident usually caught on video that shows the institution or some part of or affiliates who behave in a way that demonstrates a lack of tolerance for a minority person or group. This can vary from incidents of unconscious bias to flat out racist actions and practices. You then see the company or institution scrambling to “get to the bottom” of this event and ruminating out loud even on how this could possibly happen at their school. Part of the function of an office of diversity and inclusion is to keep it’s finger on the pulse of these type of incidents at the school. Granted you can control individuals actions but if actively involved and engaging on this matter you can perhaps get as sense of when things are going awry and because you’ve engaged and fostered relationships with folks closer to the ground on these issues than an institution can ever be, you can be proactive and put measures in place to prevent harmful acts.
2. Wear it on your sleeve
As talked about in the intro for a long time diversity and inclusion were buzzwords, that could be used to placate people into believing they were actual policies ir initiatives to move a diversity and inclusion agenda forward. No longer is that the case in the flat info laden world we live in people expect a high level of accountability from their institutions especially schools. Having an entire office or department dedicated to this issue is a very public statement/display and let’s supporters and detractors a like that this is an issue you take seriously and have created a space for for it to be addressed.
3. Safe Space
“Safe spaces vs brave spaces” have become almost necessary on campus an office of diversity and inclusion is a great way to address the need for a physical space were marginalized, students, faculty and staff and even outside groups can congregate and feel safe in expressing themselves and addressing issues important to them. It can also serve as a space for respectful dialogue between people or groups on campus with opposing views. If the school and community at larger are aware that this space exists instead of issues bubbling beneath the surface and discussion limited to the confines of your living room and those in immediate proximity who more than likely share the same views as you, there can be this space were issues impacting and surrounding diversity can be discussed
4. Multicultural Future
STudies show that within the coming decades the country and world by extension will be more diverse and multicultural. Establishing a foothold in that space now if nothing else is a step in the right direction in regards to demography. That population shift has and will continue to happen in education and other sectors as well doesn’t it make sense to start making strides that way now as opposed to get caught flat footed not being able to cater to the needs of a changing populace.
5. Leader in your field
As an extension of the last sentiment, another reason to have an office of diversity and inclusion is to establish yourself as an authority and leader among other schools in your sector and the industry at large. Especially as it relates to student recruitment. Competition is fierce in the sector, prospective students at every level have a plethora of choices when it comes to deciding which institution to attend. And as noted earlier with populations becoming more diverse having an established track record and a department dedicated to addressing the needs of these students and staff is going to become of more importance to prospects from student recruitment to institutional advancement.
As we move into the future it’s going to become important for schools to embrace this and having an office of diversity and inclusion is a great step in that direction. From being a leader in your field, and helping yourself by keeping your finger on the pulse of issues on campus to embracing the multicultural future creating safe spaces and letting it made known your embracing of this department are all great reasons to do so. Can you pinpoint other reasons? Feel free to share them in your comments we love to hear from you.