John Rice, a person of color and founder of MLT, a company that helps high-potential folks from underrepresented groups develop into senior leaders, writes a great article in the current issue of Harvard Business Review (June 2012).
He notes that most companies have been working "for years" to add diversity to the leadership ranks. Of course, too often, companies (schools too, I would add) don't have more to show for their efforts.
Rice believes that companies (schools) are tripping themselves up in four ways:
(1) You've distributed the responsibility for increasing diversity. "If no one person or group is responsible for building a diverse senior management pipeline, it's hard to develop an integrated, game-changing strategy." For example, recruitment teams and diversity departments should work together on this effort, not separately.
(2) You're managing activities, not outcomes. Instead of focusing on 'inputs' such as "the number of mentoring programs, event sponsorships, or résumés collected, [...] you should think about performance as strategically as you do in your core operating businesses: Be very clear about what success will look like in five years. Define metrics to track progress toward that vision."
(3) Your focus is on fixing the culture. "Culture change happens very slowly--and usually not at all until new faces have appeared in your company's leadership ranks and new perspectives have begun to reshape its strategies. Your first priority should be to improve performance and promotion rates in underrepresented groups. You'll find that culture change comes more readily from a critical mass of diverse executives than from a series of diversity and inclusion seminars or one high-profile minority hire."
(4) You prioritize minority candidates for diversity department roles. Rice points out that folks who manage diversity departments, especially if from underrepresented groups themselves (a ubiquitous practice), "may be risk-averse," when it comes to "solving" the issue of not enough employees from underrepresented groups. Why risk-averse? They "are usually struggling themselves with the issues their companies want them to solve," especially since their own strategies are highly visible. "A company that wants its diversity executives to advocate for bold new approaches should think about rotating high-performing line executives (whether minority or nonminority) into diversity roles. Having already established their reputations internally as revenue producers, they can navigate any setbacks that come from new approaches."
How does your school promote hiring and advancement of underrepresented groups within the teaching ranks as well as the administrative ranks?