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Overcoming the Brutal Facts of Diversity Planning and Implementation by Dr. Damon A. Williams,

Overcoming the Brutal Facts of Diversity Planning and Implementation by Dr. Damon A. Williams,

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This article presents the major reasons why diversity plans fail. It also presents an overall strategic approach to overcoming this resistance, with a specific focus on diversity planning in colleges and universities. It presents concepts featured in a new book, the Chief Diversity Officer: Strategy, Structure, and Change Management by Dr. Damon A. Williams, VP & Chief Diversity Officer (damonawilliams1@mac.com) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Katrina Wade-Golden, Senior Research Scientist, Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, University of Michigan. This book is expected in Fall of 2009.
This article presents the major reasons why diversity plans fail. It also presents an overall strategic approach to overcoming this resistance, with a specific focus on diversity planning in colleges and universities. It presents concepts featured in a new book, the Chief Diversity Officer: Strategy, Structure, and Change Management by Dr. Damon A. Williams, VP & Chief Diversity Officer (damonawilliams1@mac.com) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Katrina Wade-Golden, Senior Research Scientist, Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, University of Michigan. This book is expected in Fall of 2009.

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05/11/2014

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For more information about
The Diversity Factor 
please visit http://diversityfactor.rutgers.edu
©Published by Elsie Y. Cross & Associates, Inc.Web site developed by Rutgers University - Division of Continuous Education and Outreach200
6
 
The Diversity Factor 
Overcoming the Brutal Facts:Building and Implementing aRelentless Diversity Change Process
 
By
Damon Williams, Ph.D.
 
 Volume
1
4
, Number
 
4
 
Fall
2006
 
Overcoming the Brutal Facts: Building andImplementing a Relentless Diversity Change Process
Damon Williams, Ph.D.
The Diversity Factor
 
© 2006
 
ISSN 1545-2808
 
Fall 2006
 
Diversity in Higher Education 
 Volume 14, Number 4The cultural DNA of colleges and universities is different from corporationsor even other non-profit organizations in a number of fundamental ways.
1
 Where most corporations have a clear financial goal of increasing profits,colleges and universities pursue research, educational and service goalsthat often fly in the face of the financial bottom line. They use accountingprocesses, hire talent and have many of the same functions as anycorporation, but the organizational culture in which these dynamics arenested is often anarchical, political, highly symbolic and steeped in aconfusing and long-standing tradition of shared governance.The unique nature of college culture, fostered by a deep sense of ownership and control that faculty, administrators and students feel overtheir institutions is uncommon in other types of organizations. The resultis a nearly intractable culture that is often times slow and resistant tochange, whether the domain of the change is diversity or something else.With all too much frequency, high profile and institution-wide diversityplans are quickly forgotten or abandoned as the
brutal facts 
of institutional culture short circuit top-down edicts from the president orprovost.
2
To successfully lead campus diversity efforts, institutions mustclearly address the brutal facts — organizational dynamics — which are atthe crux of why diversity plans fail.If our diversity achievements areto be more than symbolic thenwe must address and overcome each of these factsand relentlessly approach the diversityimplementation process with a focus on real changeand results. In a recent article I coauthored onorganizational change and diversity,
3
my co-authorsand I outlined seven brutal facts:1.Failure to conceptualize diversity work in termsof organizational change and shifting theinstitutional culture;2.Resistance to the logic that diversity is fundamental to excellence;3.Low levels of meaningful and consistent support from senior leadership;4.Failure to allocate sufficient resources to the process of change;5.Lack of a comprehensive and widely accepted framework to define diversity and tracprogress;6.Lack of accountability systems and means of getting individuals engaged in the changeprocess at all levels;
Dr. Williams is Assistant Vice Provost in theOffice of Multicultural & International Affairs atthe University of Connecticut. Heprovides institution-wide leadership onissues of academicdiversity, access andequity, and multi-culturalism. He has alsoserved as faculty inresidence for over 75institutions at the Association of AmericanColleges andUniversities GreaterExpectationsLeadershipDevelopment Institute.
"The unique nature of college culture, fostered bya deep sense of ownershipand control that faculty,administrators andstudents feel over theirinstitutions is uncommon inother types of organizations."
 
7.Lack of leadership and infrastructure to guide and facilitate the change journey andprovide leadership to campus diversity efforts at all levels of the institution.In this article, I will address the brutal facts and recommend ways to overcome them.
Brutal Fact 1
 A failure to conceptualize diversity planning and implementation as a broad-based change project that centers on shifting the institutional culture 
When we desire to implement a new university-wide information technology system like PeopleSoft or SAP, we strategically allocate resources, hire implementation specialists to develop achange-management plan, establish metrics to track progress and implement the plan with awell-mobilized effort. However, when implementing a new vision for diversity, we rarely followsuch a rational implementation process. Even if we did, diversity unlike softwareimplementation efforts, does not have a beginning, middle and comfortable end point. Instead,it is an evolving and organic process in which one change may catalyze another in unexpectedways that may never truly be complete. To quote from an American Council of Educationmonograph, "real change means there is no point in time when everyone can declare a victoryand go back to normal."
4
Real change is about consistently engaging in the individual andorganizational work necessary to change the representation, climate and culture of anorganization.The long-term success of college diversity initiatives centers on the institution's ability toprovide a road map for shifting the organizational culture and systems in ways that focus onintentionally unfreezing, moving and refreezing the culture.
5
Whether diversifying the profile of our student bodies, establishing seed grants to spur curricular innovations, supporting ethnic-specific student organizations, funding a minority-focused outreach or hosting a facultydevelopment institute on diversity, the focus of each of these efforts is the culturaltransformation of institutions that were in many ways built to serve the nearly all white malestudent populations for whom they were founded.
Figure 1. Adaptation of Schien's 1985 Model of Organizational Culture
7
 Institutional culture is multilayered, ranging from the pictures and signs that hang on the wallsat the geospatial level, to the deep level of embedded values, beliefs and assumptions thatguide the behavior of students, faculty, staff and administrative leaders (see Figure 1).
6
It iseasy to change the pictures in our brochures and web sites, but these changes touch only the

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