VII. Staff Diversity
Respect for all human diversity is a fundamental value of the Libraries. Staff members who appreciate different backgrounds and perspectives provide us with a competitive advantage as we approach problem solving and planning for services. This appreciation also allows us to serve our increasingly diverse communities more effectively and with more sensitivity.
UW Libraries Diversity Appraisal Report
Recruitment of Diverse Staff Members
The Office of Human Resources (HR) provides a range of services such as: recruiting and hiring; comprehensive training opportunities for all University employees; specifying diversity awareness as a performance measure; providing opportunities for diversity training and consultation; and offering programs and services that support students, staff and faculty for their diverse life issues and challenges.
HR handles basic recruitment and outreach efforts by participating in job fairs targeting diverse candidates and distributing brochures to local community organizations representing Seattle’s diverse communities. In partnership with the Equal Opportunity Office’s Disability Services Office, a disability employment specialist works with HR Service Teams to help staff members who can no longer perform their current job functions to find alternative job duties/positions.
The Equal Opportunity Office analyzes applicants’ data to look for possible obstacles in the hiring process. Potential employees are asked to indicate if they identify as multiracial and to indicate their status in relation to the racial/ethnic categories of American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander, Black, and Hispanic.*
Continued Support of University Employees
The Department of Training and Development in Human Resources offers training classes, including e-learning, which focus on working in a diverse environment, and leadership programs that include focus on diversity issues and consulting services for departments needing assistance in planning or conflict resolution. Other HR services include a comprehensive employee assistance program and classes on alternative/flexible work schedules in departments. The Equal Opportunity Disability Services Office provides American Sign Language interpreters. Services are also offered that help with parenting, childcare, and elder care (websites, individual support, classes). These services have been created to help employees to be more effective and to support staff members in personal challenges that may arise. Diversity awareness classes are offered by Training and Development. In addition, diversity training is also offered by Training and Development or outside experts as an intervention strategy.
Invisibility of Staff Needs and Contributions
In addressing staff diversity, reports tended to be an accounting of the numbers of staff in various categories, as found in the affirmative action reports. External evaluator Cress reports that the needs and contributions of staff, along with entry-level student affairs professionals, part-time and adjunct faculty, research/teaching assistants, and student workers were frequently overlooked in the diversity appraisals. She notes that,
Taken as a whole, these university members provide the majority of service, education, and support for students and faculty. The hiring, training, and professional development of these individuals should certainly be as high of a priority as the support provided to academic and administrative leaders. Those in positional power are in fact charged with the larger responsibility of ensuring a safe and dynamic work and learning environment. And, yet, most interactions students have in navigating the university system occur with those who have limited positional power (e.g., secretaries, advisers, teaching assistants). (Cress, 2004)
The Staff Working Committee of the Diversity Council is addressing these issues and attempting to raise the profile of staff needs and concerns.
Staff-Driven Efforts to Support Diversity
The Staff Working Committee of the University Diversity Council, in response to areas of importance identified by employees, drafted a statement on the University working climate that includes an emphasis on respect and diversity. Responding to staff members’ urging, and with funding from the Provost’s Innovation and Redesign Initiative, Training and Development has developed English classes for staff members who are non-native speakers and release time was authorized to attend such courses.
The Staff Working Committee has also identified the need for support for subsidized child care, access to workshops at times when staff can attend, opportunities to discuss diversity issues, and a diversity audit of staff to identify climate issues. Parallel efforts on staff diversity are ongoing on the Bothell and Tacoma campuses. In addition, the President’s Advisory Committee on Women has a Women of Color Staff Committee.
Examples of Good Practice
- Creating a welcoming and supportive workplace climate that enhances diversity. The Office of Financial Management has developed a strong diversity initiative that funds and gives release time for English skills classes, has a diversity team that focuses on communication and climate, and offers a structured mentoring program for staff. The Office of Minority Affairs promotes a strong sense of community through quarterly social and cultural events that bring staff members together to celebrate their work on behalf of diversity.
- Creating staff diversity councils and task forces. Harborview Medical Center promotes a strong sense of team and community through its Cultural Diversity Affairs Council. The Council is constituted by hospital employees who serve as a resource to the medical center on matters of diversity. The Council also invites input from staff to identify potential cultural and social barriers within the institution.
- Developing policies that encourage internal promotions of diverse staff members to supervisory positions. Classroom Support Services, aware that historically, technical and management staff in a “technology” rich department such as CSS was primarily white and male, has assertively sought to diversify and support its staff. CSS’s current permanent staff consists of 67% men to 33% women, and 21% of permanent staff members are ethnic minorities. 43% of the professional staff members who manage the department are women and/or minority. Perhaps most importantly, CSS has an active policy to encourage women and minority employees to seek promotions to supervisory positions.
- Supporting and retaining staff members. The Office of Human Resources sponsors a comprehensive employee assistance program, gives classes on how to offer flexible work schedules, and provides family support services to assist with parenting, childcare, and elder care.
Challenges and Recommendations
- Developing a comprehensive plan for recruiting and retaining and promoting a diverse staff. While there are many offices and programs that provide excellent resources for recruitment and retention, there is no comprehensive strategy for recruiting and retaining a diverse staff. The University would benefit from a plan with concrete action steps and indicators of success.
- Moving the focus on staff concerns beyond quantification to diversity. The UW needs to create a conversation about the role and contributions of staff to the University and its diversity. Institutional research to assess diversity among staff is needed. A climate survey for staff members in different University sectors would help illuminate issues and concerns.
- Developing and assessing mentoring and promotion programs. The University would benefit from assessment of the existing programs for staff mentoring and promotion and from assessment of their impact. Review of staff members’ involvement in course-taking opportunities and other advancement activities units is needed.
- Integrating technology throughout the application process and the work place. Increased requirements for the use of technology may challenge potential and current employees. While the UWHires electronic application process, for example, offers new opportunities, it also poses possible problems by requiring that application be made only electronically, which may create a digital division among candidates.
* Similar information from employees forms the basis for affirmative action reports prepared annually and disseminated to vice presidents, deans, and academic units, and are available to the public at http://www.washington.edu/provost/ap/equal-opportunity-affirmative-action/