Advancing diversity

diversity studentsThis spring I was fortunate to hear our chancellor Steven Rosenstone speak passionately about advancing diversity in our system at a conference for HR professionals and Chief Diversity Officers.  I found his talk inspiring and thought that you might too. He shared two reasons to care about diversity.

The first reason is all about social justice. Rosenstone said, “It’s the right thing to do, it’s who we are, it’s what we believe in,  it’s what we value as human beings, and it’s part of our core responsibilities as human beings who care about other human beings.”

The second reason, Rosenstone wryly describes as a purely financial reason. He shared some compelling demographics with the group saying that 2/3 of the population growth in the state over the next 25 years will be among people of color. And, he added that our colleges and universities will not have students or employees unless we make sure that our campuses are inviting and supportive of all people.

To create that supportive environment, he presented some challenge goals to his audience, saying that we must:

  • Increase the number of students of color and American Indian students on our campuses
  • Increase the number of employees of color and American Indian employees on our campuses
  • Increase diversity among women, disabled, veterans, and the GLBT community
  • Improve the completion rate for students of color, for American Indian students and Pell-eligible students
  • Improve the climate on our campuses so all Minnesotans feel welcomed and at home

Most importantly, Rosenstone challenged diversity and HR leaders to identify 4 or 5 things that will make a difference in outcomes and move the dial on how we advance diversity. He urged leaders to re-focus on results and take action.

This year, my talent management team will be looking at how we provide useful resources to our campuses to hire affirmatively, starting with e-learning training that will be available on demand. I am hopeful that this will help us as we work to increase the number of faculty and staff of color on our campuses.

Thinking about your areas of influence, what can you do that will help move the dial and advance diversity?

Anita Rios




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