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Dealing with Diversity: Transforming Your Library’s Work Environment

Dr. Camila A. Alire Dean Emerita University of New Mexico & Colorado State University

SLA-NYC Presentation

• Leadership for diversity/Inclusiveness in your library environment • Cultural competencies

Defining the Work Environment
• Diversity • Inclusiveness

• Diversity in the library workplace –
– Employees who bring unique perspectives or backgrounds to the organization.

Dimensions of Diversity
• • • • • • • • • Gender Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Nationality Sexual Orientation Age Mental and Physical Capabilities (Differentlyabled) Religion Social Class Background ….Any Minority

• Inclusive work environments:
– Have diverse individuals involved; – Value the perspectives and contributions of all people.
(The Denver Foundation, 2005)

• Every person should have the chance to realize his/her potential in their working environment, regardless of color, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical capabilities, educational background, family status, skill level, etc.

Diversity and Leadership….
• How do library managers and library employees affect the work environment to make it more diverse and inclusive?

• Managerial leadership • Transformational leadership • Changing your work environment

What is Managerial Leadership?
• Managers - leap to strategy/doing. * • Managerial leadership allows managers to sit back and reflect first on the leadership implications of management. • Managerial leadership - tied to Transformational Leadership

What is Transformational Leadership?
• The process that changes and transforms individuals. • Transformational leadership is about affecting change. • Managers must influence their staff in positive way to achieve diversity and inclusiveness in their work environments.

Why is Transformation Important?
• Libraries are affected by changing times/ demographics which include creating a more diverse work environment. • Need to make sure that our staffs make that change to provide better service. • Teamwork is critical – ensure you have a team.

Who Are The Transformational/ Managerial Leaders? *
• Embrace change • Motivate and/or empower their library staff • Build strong teams • Mentor/coach staff

Managerial Leadership & Diversity
• Transformational leadership deals with people’s behaviors and values. • Managerial leadership and diversity can affect the library’s organizational culture.
– Major disconnect -- managers do not value diversity yet they have diverse staff in their libraries. – Disconnect will adversely affect the organizational culture.

Managerial Leaders & Diversity (cont.)
• Managerial leaders
– Promote the library organization’s core values that emphasize accepting/ promoting diversity and being inclusive. – Stimulate and inspire staff to achieve extraordinary outcomes and develop their own leadership capacity. – Develop the leadership capabilities of diverse staff within the library organization.

Managerial Leaders & Diversity (cont.)
• Lead by example • The staff’s attitudes should mirror the leader’s. • So how diversity is valued by the managers will affect the staff’s attitudes, especially when building teams.

Diversity and Empowering Staff
• Managerial leadership > – Empowering staff – Getting them to develop shared diversity goals and to implement those goals for the good of the library organization.


Eva at GOCO…..

• Lead by example • Recognize and deal with problematic staff • Include inclusiveness in individuals’ goals

Empowering Diverse Staff *
• It’s hard for diverse staff within an organization to be team members if they are not valued nor empowered by the managers. • They become dissatisfied with the organization and most likely will have minimal commitment to the library. • Managerial leaders need to empower their diverse staff in their organizations and develop them as leaders.

Key Transformational Leadership Competencies
– Relationship-building – Communications – Problem solving – Innovation – Awareness – Collaboration

Diversity Implications of Competencies
– Relationship-building – Problem solving/collaboration

Relationship building *
• A critical component for diversity and inclusiveness • Concept of building networks can be a challenge for diversity:
• Colleagues who look and speak like you. • When a new minority staff member joins a mostly white library organization, it is easy to allow institutional racism to predominate.

• Managerial leaders need to recognize this possibility and guard against it.

Relationship building


• Networking is fundamental to successful transformational leadership. • Managerial leaders must help diverse staff build their networks. • It is not enough for the managerial leaders to deal only with their network; as role models they have to help others to build their networks. • The managerial leader must lead by example.

Building Teams to Problem-Solve
– Most effective problem-solving requires teamwork. – When building teams, managerial leaders need to recognize everyone’s individual differences and diverse backgrounds – Managerial leaders’ values must embrace and encourage diversity for effective teamwork.. – Minority staff need to be expected and encouraged to be part of the team.

Building Teams to Problem-Solve
– Team leadership and diversity should play a big role here. – Managerial leaders need to be inclusive so that diverse staff become bona fide members on the appropriate teams. – Disenfranchisement does not serve successful team leadership.

Role of Minority Managerial Library Leaders?
– Key in diversifying our library organizations. – Best at finding obstacles to achieving diversity within our organizations especially within organizational policies and procedures. – Have the natural awareness and sensitivity to know what to look for.