Ask a Chief Diversity Officer [video]

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I'm Deb Stanley-McAulay, Chief Diversity Officer, Yale University.
If I had an opportunity to ride the elevator with every college president or university president, the single piece of advice that I would give them is that diversity has to be woven into the fabric of the organization, that diversity is not a standalone activity, that it's an activity that everyone needs to embrace, and that I imagine every member of an organization being a diversity champion. So, it's finding the solution to that, weave diversity into the mission, the vision, the strategy, the goals and objective of an organization, and then I think we've reached that next level in the elevator, so, time to get off.
When I think about retention and the many reasons why individuals leave an organization, I think some are very similar by diversity dimension and some are very different. I can think specifically about Yale University and our millennial population, our young professionals. At one point in time, our young professionals were leaving the organization because they didn't feel included, and when we teased apart inclusion, what we learned is, language within organizations didn't make them feel like they were a contributing member of the team. Things like being referred to as kid, as opposed to their name, them bringing ideas forward and being told, "We've done that before, we've tried that "and it wasn't successful." And so, those opportunities to have your voice be heard and your ideas be incorporated seem to not exist.
Diversity training doesn't change behaviors, and so, if our expectation is that we want to send someone to diversity training and expect that after three hours, we're going to get this totally transformed individual, I think it's a misconception. What we will get at the end of three hours, or 90 minutes or one hour, depending on the length of time, is I think you'll get an employee that is much more aware of the terminology or the techniques that we're introducing. I think they'll leave with more skills that can be applied when they return back to their team and to their workplace. What I would encourage leaders to do, should they imbed diversity training into any of their goals or objectives, is to create a system when the employee returns from the training workshop or completes the online training that allows the employee to have those skills reinforced, and I think a manager can do that a variety of ways. You know, one way is to simply check in and say, "How was the class and what did you learn?", the second would be to say, "How can I support you "in instituting these new techniques?", but I think the best would be for the manager to say, "I've completed that training "and here is how I've been able to institute them. "I look forward to supporting you "as you begin to practice," create that expectation, "begin to practice this new language, "this new technique, this new way of creating "an inclusive workplace."
I guess I'd give them a couple of pieces of advice. One, I think it's important that diversity education be part of their goals and objectives, I think it's how we go about making diversity education available to team members and to leaders, could be the one pitfall or the one opportunity for success. My personal belief is that DNI training and workshops should not be made mandatory, I think they should be, again, part of the fabric of an organization. If the organization has a developmental strategy, diversity is one of the dimensions or competencies that would get addressed. If I were to give a second piece of advice to IT leader, it would be to weave in mentoring opportunities. Mentoring programs, I think, add value to both the mentor, the mentee, as well as the organization, and then I would say it also ties to our retention strategies. So, if we can think of diversity as a developmental opportunity and not as a punishment or a mandatory commitment, then I think we'll make more traction, and it feels more natural, as opposed to an exercise or a task that someone needs to simply just check off the list.

See related article: How to Plug the Leaky Bucket: Retention Strategies for Maintaining a Diverse Workforce