Transformational change efforts by diversity offices and committees are effective only insofar as they can be implemented. For a change to be transformative, it has to be shared and executed at multiple points with the institution, moving organically in such a way that it touches everyone. Resources must be committed over time and senior leadership must be involved in a substantial way. For change to be transformative, not only structures but core assumptions must evolve. Too often campus diversity plans are one dimensional resulting in minor tactical adjustments. Either campus leaders do not understand the process of institutional transformation or are afraid of the backlash that comes from trying to change the way things “have always been done.”
Top-level support and long-term commitment are critical to making diversity a matter of academic excellence. Senior leadership can contribute to the process by creating a broad institutional vision, redirecting resources to implement that vision and requiring plan development and accountability from individuals at multiple levels. Only the president, provost and other senior leaders can focus attention and prioritize diversity in a manner sufficient enough for institutional changes to be deep, pervasive and ultimately transformative.
Strategic Diversity Leadership: Activating Change and Transformation in Higher Education, Damon Williams
Developing leaders includes administrative and frontline staff, middle managers, executive management, and every position in between. Racial equity work requires humility, accountability, and transparency from all – key characteristics of people who grow into leaders. Leaders in racial equity work recognize that it is a collective, continuing process.