The institutional dimension of diversity

  • Red tape
  • Bureaucracy
  • Policies
  • Rules

How do you react when you read that list? I know that I am often frustrated by the institutional “red tape” that gets in the way of new ideas or the policies and rules that seem to limit my options. And who likes being a part of a bureaucracy?

Diversity graphic

Yet, because I work in an institution, I am able to multiply my individual contribution to higher education and to students. In the same way, building the principles and values of diversity and inclusion into our policies, rules, red tape, and even our bureaucracy will multiple our personal and academic efforts to achieve equity and excellence in higher education. The culture and infrastructure of our institutions influence the work and the lives of every faculty member, staff member and student. As leaders, our role is to hold our institutions accountable and continually assess the progress we are making in achieving success for all students and all employees.

It comes back to asking, “what can I do?” Each of us can have an impact on the institutional dimension of diversity by taking the following actions:

  1. Share the processes, policies and procedures that promote diversity with your team
  2. Create expectations for your team related to training and education on diversity
  3. As part of your leadership meetings, review and ask if the policies and procedures that promote diversity are adequate and effective
  4. Hold yourself and your team accountable to the policies and procedures promoting diversity
  5. Understand how your institutions commitment to diversity is communicated and use the process

In the end, a little bureaucracy can make a positive difference in our institutions and on all of our students.

Todd Thorsgaard



2 responses to “The institutional dimension of diversity

  1. I was a part of a meeting this morning that was filled with red tape and resistance. We desire to augment our diversity sourcing methods with a focused appraoch that will increas our ability to track qualified, diverse candidates. The problem is that any efforts to think outside the box are shot down because of the budget. This is very frustrating, yet is the life of a D&I professional


    • Todd Thorsgaard

      May, resistance and getting ideas shot down is very frustrating and are examples of policies, procedures and standards being used as barriers. What I was proposing was looking for ways to leverage policies to highlight the values of diversity and inclusion. Or for implementing procedures that will support the creation of an inclusive culture.


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