Minnesota State HR Role on Achieving Equity 2030
By Ginny Arthur, President, Metropolitan State University
Eric Davis, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, Minnesota State
Annette Parker, President, South Central College
June 17, 2021
As the state’s largest public higher education provider, we serve over 340,000 students every year, with more Black, Indigenous, Latino(a), and Asian students attending our colleges and universities than all other higher education providers in Minnesota combined. Minnesota State is committed to our workforce reflecting the diversity of our students and communities. We know this is essential for the success of our students and to develop the skilled, diverse workforce our state needs to thrive. Across our schools, we are both exploring ways and taking action to make our recruitment, hiring, and retainment strategies deliberate and intentional through an equity-focused and inclusive lens.
Developing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leaders
We cannot expect to close persistent educational equity gaps across our colleges and universities without first learning and preparing ourselves as a Minnesota State community to be effective diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners and leaders. In addition to offering the highly successful Luoma Leadership Academy and executive leadership development programs, Minnesota State is embarking on a number of strategies that will increase access to both voluntary and required workshops, classes, and developmental opportunities.
We recently updated our Art of Supervision Program, a program required for all new supervisors, adding modules on creating an inclusive workforce as a foundational element of the program. We recognize that we must equip all Minnesota State employees with the knowledge, skills, and resources to support and augment the cultural and structural changes needed to effectively serve a highly diverse student body and achieve our goals of closing the educational equity gaps.
Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining a Diverse Workforce
As part of the multifaceted, strategic approach required to achieve Equity 2030, Minnesota State is intentionally working to more effectively recruit, hire, and retain diverse faculty and staff who better reflect the changing demographics of our students and our communities. Creating a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable learning and work environment requires a willingness to critically examine ourselves and our existing structures to identify the ways we replicate exclusionary behaviors and systems and take action to change these practices. Toward that end, we are focused on:
- developing and strengthening the cultural competence of leadership,
- sharing cultural support within our communities that assist with retention,
- implementing inclusive hiring practices,
- and listening and responding to students, faculty, staff, regarding the ways we can improve the climate for our employees and students.
Currently, by way of example, Minnesota State requires Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training for search advisory committee members that includes an unconscious bias training module as part of the process. Some institutions, such as Metropolitan State University, are integrating equity advocates, individuals who are trained and equipped to serve as champions of equity, diversity, and inclusion to assist search advisory committees through the search and hiring process of faculty and staff. This effort resulted in a significant increase of diverse faculty hires since implementation of the Equity Champions program began.
We are actively partnering with national organizations, HR and diversity thought leaders, bargaining unit leaders, communities, and others across our colleges and universities to assure our hiring practices are consciously designed to increase the diversity of candidate, semi-finalist, and finalist pools. Research¹ demonstrates that the odds of hiring a woman or a Black, Indigenous, Latino(a), or Asian candidate increase significantly if the finalist pool is more diverse. The researchers also found that for pools with two candidates who are Black, Indigenous, or of color, “the odds of hiring a minority were 193.72 times greater.”
To diversify our candidate pools, we are enlisting allies off-campus to promote our searches. From professional search firms, to on- and off-campus networks, there are many with connections to diverse candidates and invested leaders eager to help. As an active member of the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to diversifying the pipeline of faculty, staff, and executives in higher education, Minnesota State is applying a number of practices to emphasize equity and inclusion in the search and hiring process.
As Minnesota State expands its efforts, it remains important for our partners and all who serve on search advisory committees or with hiring authority to understand and practice inclusive hiring by reexamining position descriptions, cultural differences, understanding their own implicit biases, and explicitly discussing assumptions about what it means to be “qualified.”
Creating and Sustaining Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Campus Climates
Perhaps most influential is what Minnesota State does to build and sustain healthy, diverse, equitable and inclusive work climates so that diverse employees and teams can thrive. Higher education developed centuries ago principally to educate a very narrow subset of the population. Those structures are, for the most part, still best designed to achieve the same result. Our challenge is to redesign and implement policies, procedures, and cultural norms that enable the creativity and best efforts of all. We begin by:
- building the habit of asking who is advantaged and disadvantaged by our practices, listening to the answers and taking the required action;
- ensuring that employees at all levels are accountable for building these habits; and
- increasing employees’ access to mentoring, coaching, and opportunities to expand their network and influence through employee resource groups (ERG) and professional development.
Ultimately, success with Equity 2030 is everyone’s job throughout Minnesota State. Together we will improve and sustain the conditions that ensure student success, build community, pride, and a sense of belonging.
¹Johnson, S.K., Hekman, D.R., and Chan, E.T. (2016). If There’s Only One Woman in Your Candidate Pool, There’s Statistically No Chance She’ll Be Hired. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved May 14, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2016/04/if-theres-only-one-woman-in-your-candidate-pool-theres-statistically-no-chance-shell-be-hired