Enhancing diversity is becoming a major priority for many colleges and universities that see its value in helping achieve not only a dynamic learning environment, but also critical business outcomes.
And, as with any successful business strategy, data and metrics play a key role.
Analyzing existing demographic and performance data helps higher education institutions gain insights into how they can attract more diverse students and employees.
“Through analyzing data in our applicant tracking system, we found that we were losing minority employees faster than we could hire them,” said Demetrius Bynes, director of employment services at Georgia Southern University (GSU) in Statesboro. “By taking a real analytical look at our data, we could tell we really needed to work on our ability to retain diverse employees.”
SelectSuite® — PeopleAdmin’s applicant tracking solution designed specifically for higher education — provides powerful analytics tools to help hundreds of colleges and universities track those initiatives and meet diversity hiring goals … including Georgia Southern.
After identifying the minority employee attrition spike using SelectSuite data, Demetrius and his team reviewed exit interviews and other information and discovered that employees with disabilities were significantly less likely to feel they had sufficient opportunities for promotion and growth than nondisabled employees.
GSU worked to improve this by first focusing on professional development for new hires with disabilities. Demetrius coached managers on the issue and established a clear pathway for these employees to move from temporary positions to permanent positions, largely through mentorship and professional development.
“What we’re doing now is keeping our workforce diverse and helping them be more successful in their jobs,” Demetrius said. “We’re working toward a better future.”
To really work toward “a better future,” Demetrius and his peers know reviewing data once and making changes won’t resolve all diversity challenges in higher education.
“Colleges and universities focused on diversity need to work on tracking metrics and making changes over time, when people are actually implementing ideas and initiatives,” said Edward Wilson Jr., Ph.D., director of strategic partnerships at PeopleAdmin and former HR director and director of academic affairs at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.
It’s this ongoing data review and process adaptation that can really have an impact on campuses, said Sharron Gatling, assistant director of equal opportunity at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. “We want this to be a great working environment for all of us, and being able to go back to the data and say, ‘This particular area keeps having all this turnover. What is happening?’ helps us achieve that,” she said.
Like Demetrius, Sharron uses diversity hiring data from SelectSuite to collaborate with team members to achieve a common goal.
“Part of the goal of diversity, equity and inclusion is to get to a point where we can work together and thrive,” Sharron said. “There are often situations in which I can help you reach your goals and you can help me reach mine. Having that data gives me the opportunity to be proactive about what’s happening in our workforce and reach out.”
Recent enhancements to SelectSuite’s Analytics module will make it even easier for Demetrius, Sharron and other SelectSuite users to make data-based decisions that empower diversity.