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EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Senior Technology Leaders' Impressions of DEI Efforts

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As stakeholders translate intention into action, data indicate that senior technology leaders feel more optimistic about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) progress than do middle management and frontline staff.

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Credit: Erta © 2022

EDUCAUSE is helping institutional leaders, technology professionals, and other staff address their pressing challenges by gathering and sharing data. This report is based on an EDUCAUSE QuickPoll. QuickPolls enable us to rapidly gather, analyze, and share input from our community about specific emerging topics.Footnote1

The graphs presented here are drawn from the QuickPoll conducted for the previously published "EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Leadership and Action for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion."Footnote2 They provide additional findings not included in that article and focus on the responses of senior technology leaders as compared with the responses of middle management and frontline staff. Nearly one in five respondents (17%) to this QuickPoll reported holding a senior technology leadership role at the level of a CIO (chief information officer) or a deputy CIO (see table 1).

Table 1. Respondents' Job Roles
Job Role Percentage of Respondents

CIO or Deputy CIO level (e.g., CIO, CTO, AVP/VP of IT, executive/senior director of IT, deputy CIO, associate CIO)

17

IT professional or specialist

24

IT director or assistant director

12

Director or lead of academic computing or instructional technology

9

IT manager

9

Instructional designer

8

Other or prefer not to answer

20


An exploration of these senior technology leaders' responses to the QuickPoll revealed a consistent trend across almost all data: senior technology leaders are more optimistic about DEI progress at their institutions. The reasons for this difference were beyond the scope of the QuickPoll, and these data lead to only more questions. For example, are technology leaders more optimistic because they are not aware of the challenges middle managers and frontline staff face on a day-to-day basis? Given that higher education technology leaders are more likely to be white and male,Footnote3 how do their personal experiences influence their impressions of DEI progress? Are institution-wide DEI conversations or initiatives at the executive level not effectively communicated to lower levels of management and staff or not otherwise noticeably impacting the workplace experiences of middle and frontline staff?

Whatever the reasons for these gaps in perception, they point to a need for technology leaders to bridge those gaps. For ideas on how to do so, see the "Promising Practices" section in the earlier report drawn from this QuickPoll.Footnote4

Figure 1. Awareness of DEI Priorities
Does your institution include DEI priorities in its strategic plan? 
Senior technology leaders: No 8%, Unsure 13%, Yes 80%. 
All other roles: No 7%, Unsure 25%, Yes 67. 
Figure 2. Positive Impacts of DEI Priorities
My institution's DEI strategic priorities... 
Prioritize most important issues: Senior technology leaders 46%, All other roles 31%. 
Inspire individuals to take action: Senior technology leaders 49%, All other roles 39%. 
Provide direction for new policies or actions: Senior technology leaders 40%, All other roles 32%. 
Build on institution’s strengths: Senior technology leaders 48%, All other roles 42%. 
Incorporate accessibility: Senior technology leaders 49%, All other roles 43%.
Figure 3. Negative Impacts of DEI Priorities
My institution's DEI strategic priorities... 
Fail to address important operations (e.g., hiring): Senior technology leaders 22%, All other roles 29%.
Fail to lead to policies or actions: Senior technology leaders 14%, All other roles 24%.
Fail to include all historically marginalized groups: Senior technology leaders 6%, All other roles 16%.
Result in unintended negative consequences: Senior technology leaders 6%, All other roles 17%.
Create impression we have already achieved goals: Senior technology leaders 3%, All other roles 16%.
Figure 4. DEI Challenges and Opportunities
Percentage of respondents who agree or strongly agree. 
I am aware of the challenges and opportunities related to DEI in higher education: Senior technology leaders 95%, All other roles 81%.
Leaders at my institution are aware of the challenges and opportunities related to DEI in higher education: Senior technology leaders 87%, All other roles 66%.
Figure 5. DEI Support and Resources
Percentage of respondents who agree or strongly agree. 
My institution supports programs to create opportunities and reduce barriers for underrepresented students to succeed: Senior technology leaders 89%, All other roles 71%.
My institution supports and advocates for DEI practices: Senior technology leaders 87%, All other roles 69%.
My institution has resources and tools for supporting DEI practices: Senior technology leaders 68%, All other roles 63%.
My institution provides opportunities and support for mentorship related to DEI efforts: Senior technology leaders 48%, All other roles 40%.
Figure 6. Equitable Workforce Practices
Percentage of respondents who agree or strongly agree. 
People of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, individuals with disabilities, and others have sufficient opportunities to be professionals and leaders at my institution: Senior technology leaders 63%, All other roles 44%. 
Demographic data about my institution’s workforce are published and shared: Senior technology leaders 54%, All other roles 39%. 
Demographic data about the higher education workforce are published and shared: Senior technology leaders 47%, All other roles 33%. 
My institution's workforce keeps up with regional demographic trends: Senior technology leaders 45%, All other roles 24%. 
All people at my institution are treated equitably with respect to compensation, promotion, and benefits: Senior technology leaders 37%, All other roles 23%.

All QuickPoll results can be found on the EDUCAUSE QuickPolls web page. For more information and analysis about higher education IT research and data, please visit the EDUCAUSE Review EDUCAUSE Research Notes topic channel, as well as the EDUCAUSE Research web page.

Notes

  1. QuickPolls are less formal than EDUCAUSE survey research. They gather data in a single day instead of over several weeks and allow timely reporting of current issues. This poll was conducted between May 16 and May 17, 2022, consisted of 11 questions, and resulted in 454 complete responses. The poll was distributed by EDUCAUSE staff to relevant EDUCAUSE Community Groups rather than via our enterprise survey infrastructure, and we are not able to associate responses with specific institutions. Our sample represents a range of institution types and FTE sizes. Jump back to footnote 1 in the text.
  2. Jenay Robert, "EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Leadership and Action for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion," EDUCAUSE Review, May 20, 2022. Jump back to footnote 2 in the text.
  3. Joseph Galanek, Dana C. Gierdowski, and D. Christopher Brooks, The Higher Education IT Workforce Landscape, 2019, EDUCAUSE Research Report, February 28, 2019. Jump back to footnote 3 in the text.
  4. Robert, "EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Leadership and Action for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion." Jump back to footnote 4 in the text.

Jenay Robert is Researcher at EDUCAUSE.

© 2022 Jenay Robert. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.