Having a diverse staff and faculty, as well as a diverse student body, is an important priority for Joianne Smith, president of Oakton Community College in Illinois, where 52 percent of students are non-white.
“We’ve been focused on being very intentional about where we recruit future employees,” Smith says. Everyone who serves on a hiring committee must undergo cultural competency training. The training helps Oakton staff recognize their own biases and identify the kinds of questions they should ask job applicants.
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Recruiters prioritize job fairs targeted to people of color. Ads for job openings prominently displays the college’s values, and during job interviews, Oakton personnel talk about the college’s commitment to diversity and equity.
Oakton’s human resources department is undergoing a transition, so statistics aren’t available, but Smith says the college has made progress in attaining more diversity, especially among administrators, where there is more turnover than among full-time faculty members with tenure. The senior leadership team–Smith’s eight-member cabinet–is majority non-white, she notes.