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Michigan’s Staff Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report reflects that Michigan employees have concerns similar to those of students and faculty about the University’s commitment to creating a diverse environment. Expectations of an increasingly diverse workforce are necessitating that employers adjust approaches to workforce management to recognize qualities that make individuals unique while creating organizational cultures that better enable collaboration among diverse employees.
HR Policies for Staff
A simple and important task as LSA begins a five-year DEI plan is to review and update all LSA staff policies to ensure language supports the College’s DEI objectives by fostering an environment that is inclusive and supportive of a diverse employee population. For example, policies regarding flexible work arrangements as well as staff attendance expectations should be reviewed to ensure policy language encourages supervisors to consider the needs of employees who are striving to manage their own serious health conditions, those of their immediate family members, and other such responsibilities or commitments beyond work. The review of these policies includes ensuring LSA staff policies similarly support University-level DEI objectives and policies. The summary below articulates goals in this area for the five-year University planning horizon.
LSA Staff Diversity Website
The University’s Staff Committee on DEI Report indicates that senior leaders, supervisors, and staff lack a sufficient level of knowledge to speak fluently about DEI issues. A dedicated LSA staff diversity site would provide our employees with an introduction to DEI concepts and specific resources for use in developing their understanding of those concepts. The site could communicate news about relevant events across campus, build general awareness of DEI efforts, and share information about DEI-specific professional development opportunities for staff. Additionally, the site would become a platform for promoting LSA as a diverse and inclusive employer for staff job applicants as discussed later in this document.
DEI Expectations Statement or Competency for Staff
Employees will struggle to meet expectations around DEI if unaware of those expectations. The College needs to communicate how each LSA staff member can contribute to maintaining an inclusive environment that respects people for all aspects of their diversity. A DEI expectations statement or competency standard could be developed and integrated into the performance-evaluation process for LSA employees. Competency ratings could then be used to inform decisions about potential training or professional development opportunities for employees to build awareness about the value of DEI as discussed in the U-M Staff Committee on DEI Report. Further goals in this area for staff appear below.
Staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer
In June 2016, a staff DEI officer position was created as a very visible commitment of human and financial resources to this important work, especially since peer units like the Ross School of Business, Medical School, and School of Music, Theatre, and Dance have similar positions. The position is dedicated to developing, implementing, and evaluating a variety of staff DEI activities in the College. Specific job responsibilities include:
- Creating and conducting DEI training and professional development programs for LSA staff;
- Promoting other DEI activities on or off campus that are open to staff;
- Developing and implementing a staff internship program pilot;
- Engaging in ongoing, active recruitment of diverse applicants for key staff positions in LSA and positions where a federal affirmative action goal may exist.
The effectiveness of the DEI officer position will be evaluated using measures such as:
- DEI programs developed and delivered with satisfactory participant evaluations;
- Improvement in sufficiently diverse staff applicant pools;
- Potential improvements in number of diverse hires.
ADDITIONAL GOALS THROUGH 2021 ASSOCIATED WITH THE CREATION OF THIS POSITION APPEAR BELOW.
Enhance Overall LSA Staff Employment Branding
LSA can engage in more purposeful work around employment branding to promote the College as an attractive employer for diverse applicants. Areas for improvement include simple enhancements to language in job postings to focus on broader competencies necessary to be successful in a given position rather than overly specific qualifications such as requiring MPathways experience. Training on inclusive selection practices would also enable mangers who hire staff to better present LSA as a highly desirable employer for diverse talent.
In the short-term, a question about satisfaction with the recruitment and selection process could be added to the survey provided to new employees after LSA New Employee Orientation or perhaps asked in a follow-up interview with new LSA staff. Increases in volume of applicants for LSA positions year-over-year is another potential measure of how impactful employment branding efforts have been, though admittedly this does not demonstrate true causation. Additional objectives related to enhancing LSA’s employment brand over the next five years can be found below.
Active Staff Recruitment
Engaging hiring managers with vacant positions in the active recruitment of candidates from diverse backgrounds is important. Attracting top talent for staff positions in LSA will be easier if everyone with authority to fill staff positions collaborates in the interest of enhancing diversity of applicant pools. Staff managers could partner with the DEI officer and LSA HR to work on continuing to attract diverse applicants to apply for vacant staff positions across the College.
Common practice at the University is to post a staff position for at least the University-required minimum posting period of seven calendar days (and sometimes for two weeks) and to select the best qualified applicant who applied for the position during that time period. Over the last several years, LSA HR has engaged in more proactive recruitment for key positions by attempting to recruit candidates through:
- The University’s Alumni Association Career Portal;
- A variety of websites dedicated to attracting diverse job applicants;
- Job posting sites dedicated to the higher education industry;
- Career services offices at local institutions like Wayne State and Eastern Michigan that tend to serve a greater population of students and alumni from underrepresented groups;
- Soliciting referrals from outstanding interviewees and hires;
- Outreach to select professional associations;
- Mining the University’s résumé database;
- Posting jobs on the Michigan Works website.
These efforts appear to have positively impacted the diversity of applicant pools for vacant, key positions. While our dedicated DEI officer will conduct broad outreach using resources such as these, hiring managers would be especially valuable for developing and maintaining a network of professional associations and/or community organizations from which we could attempt to more actively recruit diverse applicants. Many of our supervisors and staff are already members of these entities and are well positioned to promote LSA as a desirable employer for diverse talent.
Staff Internship Program
Developing a pipeline of diverse candidates, especially in professions that historically fail to attract underrepresented groups, can take significant time. A long-term strategy LSA could choose to pursue is to create a staff internship program with targeted outreach to generate diverse intern applicant pools. A staff internship program would offer an excellent opportunity to partner with the LSA Internship Program in Undergraduate Education while also addressing the workforce needs of the College.
Possible measures of success may include the interns’ satisfaction with their work experience, units’ satisfaction with intern performance, and how often interns receive offers for positions in the fields in which they were preparing to work. Additional goals related to development and implementation of a staff internship program appear below.
In the interest of minimizing the disruption that turnover in key staff positions can create, LSA can identify key positions likely to be vacated due to turnover during the five-year planning period for this DEI plan and engage in targeted outreach to diverse candidates, among others, for those positions. The process would begin by defining what constitutes a key staff position, which are typically senior management roles or individual contributor roles that require skills that are in high demand in the job market. In addition to identifying the pipeline of potential replacements for those key positions, LSA would note roles where the best opportunities exist for investing in development of existing staff so those employees will be competitive candidates for key positions as vacancies arise. Planning could include identification of non-linear career opportunities that may be more beneficial for diverse candidates, and others, who are less interested in traditional career progression.
OVER THE FIVE-YEAR PLANNING PERIOD, EFFECTIVE SUCCESSION PLANNING FOR KEY LSA STAFF POSITIONS WOULD INVOLVE PURSUIT OF THE FOLLOWING GOALS:
Ad Hoc Monitoring of Staff Climate
LSA HR can become aware of potential staff climate issues through a variety of mechanisms, the most direct being when an employee speaks with a representative from LSA HR or University HR regarding work environment concerns. In some cases, supervisors may proactively seek help from LSA HR to improve staff morale. Staff turnover activity and personnel issues can also indicate that climate issues exist. LSA HR will continue to monitor and address such issues as they arise, as well as develop targeted interventions for staff and supervisors to help improve work climate. Additional goals through the end of the five-year planning period are reflected below.
Staff Retention Interviews
In addition to attempting to recruit more diverse applicants for staff jobs in LSA, retaining new and existing staff who are satisfactory or high performers remains important. LSA can provide staff supervisors with resources to conduct proactive retention interviews with their well-performing and diverse employees. Retention interviews are generally one-on-one discussions between a manager and a valued employee. The goals behind these “stay” interviews would be to learn why employees would remain in or leave a given position and also to reduce the risk of potential staff turnover negating progress made towards improving staff diversity.
Accommodating Employees with Disabilities
LSA HR and LSA Facilities have good practices for identifying reasonable accommodations for employees who have disabilities. However, the process needs to be better documented and communicated so that LSA employees are aware of our commitment to facilitating their ability to work. We expect to work with the Office of Institutional Equity to review our existing practice, make improvements where possible, and communicate that process before the end of 2016. Over the five-year plan period, LSA HR will continue to review disability cases received and resolved consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, LSA HR will work to minimize any period of staff absence caused by the time required for the University to evaluate accommodation requests. Additional goals are identified below.
Staff and Supervisory Professional Development Sessions on DEI
Existing LSA HR employees have prior experience conducting DEI-related training for supervisors and non-supervisory staff. Education on DEI would begin by adding material on DEI to LSA New Employee Orientation for Staff. LSA could also develop, deliver, or arrange training sessions from other providers so that employees have the opportunity to get exposure to fundamental information about DEI concepts, special topics, and why DEI matters.
Supervisors could participate in additional opportunities in and outside LSA to learn about specific skills supervisors can use to build and maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace, which will become increasingly important as the University expects to administer a campus-wide climate survey.
Career Opportunities and Diverse Staff
Through review of job classification activity, LSA HR could analyze the employment status changes of diverse staff for potential negative impact as well as potentially positive model career paths. Doing this work somewhat depends upon the quality of data maintained by University HR and improvements in the systems used for data extraction. Results from this analysis and the campus-wide climate survey (that is likely to include an item on career advancement) would provide useful information to share with staff about how to advance their careers in LSA or more broadly across the University.
The staff workforce is becoming more diverse, as are the constituent groups whom we serve. A wide range of elements can contribute to making DEI initiatives for staff successful. In order to succeed at further embedding DEI in the organizational culture of LSA, the College and University should invest an appropriate amount of resources in this increasingly complex work. Improving outcomes with respect to DEI for staff also cannot be seen as solely an HR initiative. Irrespective of the stakeholder group, success requires sustained, visible sponsorship by LSA and U-M academic and non-academic leaders.