IHE: DEI Admins Frustrated, Leaving in Droves Even as New Jobs Pop Up

Started by Wahoo Redux, February 03, 2023, 09:25:18 AM

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methodsman

#15
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ciao_yall

Quote from: Wahoo Redux on February 07, 2024, 08:45:15 PM
Quote from: ciao_yall on February 07, 2024, 07:30:56 AMThere are real issues to be addressed: companies do need more diversity of perspective and underrepresented groups do need more opportunities. But organisations must rethink their methods by drawing more on social science and less on social activism. No amount of social idealism will rewire millions of years of neural evolution.

Scott Simmons
Denver


I think this is a brilliant letter, personally.


You don't think it's a punt? "Well, it's a good idea, but it's overwhelmingly hard to implement. Son never mind."

marshwiggle

Quote from: ciao_yall on February 08, 2024, 06:51:24 AM
Quote from: Wahoo Redux on February 07, 2024, 08:45:15 PM
Quote from: ciao_yall on February 07, 2024, 07:30:56 AMThere are real issues to be addressed: companies do need more diversity of perspective and underrepresented groups do need more opportunities. But organisations must rethink their methods by drawing more on social science and less on social activism. No amount of social idealism will rewire millions of years of neural evolution.

Scott Simmons
Denver


I think this is a brilliant letter, personally.


You don't think it's a punt? "Well, it's a good idea, but it's overwhelmingly hard to implement. Son never mind."

No, because the point is that the focus on social activism rather than on social science means that the methods and procedures employed are likely to be ineffective, at best, and counterproductive, at worst. Any misunderstanding a what the real problem is and why it exists will undermine any efforts to fix it.
It takes so little to be above average.

Langue_doc

So much virtue-signalling about one's commitment to the DEI buzz words. Non-white people's responses to the DEI questions don't go down well as seen in theNYT article

Here is the question posed to the non-white applicant who is understandably at a loss as to the proper response.
QuoteImpossible Questions
Would you please help me consider a useful, if not beneficial, response to an interview question that goes something like this:

"We at (organization name) are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Would you tell us how you are prepared to work effectively with colleagues and external stakeholders from backgrounds that are different from your own, and to contribute to our commitment to D.E.I.? Feel free to think broadly about your response, applying various aspects of your life and personal experiences."

I was asked this question by a panel consisting of three white women and one white man in senior positions, my age (50s) or younger (30s to 40s), no visible disabilities. I am and appear Latina (Spanish name, dark hair, brown skin). I am not comfortable disclosing personal information (such as a non-visible disability, background as an immigrant, queer identity, etc.).

I commended their commitment to D.E.I., not least because of the range of expertise and complementary skills it brings together. But then I went on to note that, as the only person of color in the room and having successfully lived, studied and worked for decades in predominantly white institutions, I am well prepared to work with and among people whose backgrounds differ from my own.

This did not go over well. I really need a new job. I would appreciate your thoughts on perhaps a more politic response.

— Anonymous

I, like many others, have encountered versions of this question for at least 15 years. I always want to submit a two-word response, "I'm Black," though I refrain because I assume it won't go over well, as you discovered. When you're marginalized or underrepresented, you're always working with and living among people with backgrounds different from your own. The expectation that you need to articulate how your reality has prepared you to contribute to an organization's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts can be frustrating. It is rare that companies are asking this question sincerely, but they do want you to answer sincerely or, at least, tell them what they want to hear. For now, let's assume questions like this are being asked in good faith. There are many resources online that offer guidance on how to answer diversity-related questions. The indeed.com "Career Guide," for example, offers sample questions and answers. Do some research about different ways to answer this question, and think through how you can answer them using your own voice and perspective.

apl68

The article quoted above suggests that it isn't only white people who are narrow-minded on the subject of diversity who find current efforts at DEI lacking.  If the current approach isn't working, then academic (and other) institutions might want to consider trying something else?  Places that are being forced by unsympathetic state legislatures to drop their DEI departments and their more off-putting practices might not be losing much.  It might even be an opportunity to experiment with fresh approaches that could potentially work better.
If any will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.
For how does a man profit if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?

marshwiggle

Quote from: apl68 on February 08, 2024, 07:51:01 AMThe article quoted above suggests that it isn't only white people who are narrow-minded on the subject of diversity who find current efforts at DEI lacking.  If the current approach isn't working, then academic (and other) institutions might want to consider trying something else?  Places that are being forced by unsympathetic state legislatures to drop their DEI departments and their more off-putting practices might not be losing much.  It might even be an opportunity to experiment with fresh approaches that could potentially work better.

The problem is that discrimination, like many diseases, has no absolutely unique and identifiable marker, so it can only be inferred from collections of symptoms. Thus, there is no objective standard by which any suspected "case" can be definitively diagnosed. So, to appear vigilant, people and institutions are going to be safer to over-diagnose than to under-diagnose.
It takes so little to be above average.

Wahoo Redux

Quote from: marshwiggle on February 08, 2024, 07:01:53 AM
Quote from: ciao_yall on February 08, 2024, 06:51:24 AM
Quote from: Wahoo Redux on February 07, 2024, 08:45:15 PM
Quote from: ciao_yall on February 07, 2024, 07:30:56 AMThere are real issues to be addressed: companies do need more diversity of perspective and underrepresented groups do need more opportunities. But organisations must rethink their methods by drawing more on social science and less on social activism. No amount of social idealism will rewire millions of years of neural evolution.

Scott Simmons
Denver


I think this is a brilliant letter, personally.


You don't think it's a punt? "Well, it's a good idea, but it's overwhelmingly hard to implement. Son never mind."

No, because the point is that the focus on social activism rather than on social science means that the methods and procedures employed are likely to be ineffective, at best, and counterproductive, at worst. Any misunderstanding a what the real problem is and why it exists will undermine any efforts to fix it.


Please take note, all, that this is where the Marshbrain and I meet.  I have to agree on with The Mighty Marshbeast, although I do not know how we would apply the science to an actual working scenario.  I'd leave that to the scientists, I guess.

@ciao, I hadn't thought of it as a punt.  I guess the thing of it is that I just don't think all this "training" and all these officers with their humongous salaries work.  It's not an ethical position, it is simply an observation.  And I am not sure that the steps we take are always fair (or even legal...but no one seems to know or want to discuss about that).  A PowerPoint and a condescending lecture will not change a prejudice. In fact, these efforts are now backfiring, and they are creating toxicity in the workplace.   

And what apl just said.
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter--and the Bird is on the Wing.

marshwiggle

Quote from: Wahoo Redux on February 08, 2024, 08:19:07 AMPlease take note, all, that this is where the Marshbrain and I meet.  I have to agree on with The Mighty Marshbeast, although I do not know how we would apply the science to an actual working scenario.  I'd leave that to the scientists, I guess.


Would something we both agree on reflect some kind of fundamental truth about the universe?
It takes so little to be above average.

secundem_artem

Some people take academic jobs to change the world.  Some don't.

I didn't.  I try and give students the tools they may be able to use if they would like to change the world.  My research is hopefully useful to people who see something of value in it that they can use to change the world.

Some of my work is in the Global South.  I do try and bring about such improvements as I can, while realizing it's mostly bailing out the ocean with a bucket.

Me, most of the time I've only got enough bandwidth to pay attention to the things that I have a hope of dealing with. Climate change?  No interest.  Transphobia?  No interest.  The war in Ukraine?  Ditto.

But.... working where I do, I have had to learn how to feign interest and say the things that must be said to placate those who believe that climate change, transphobia, and the war in Ukraine simply must be things that we "stand with". (Whatever the hell that means.)

So, I'm basically a fake.  But at least I know I'm a fake, unlike the loudest, angriest and protestingest parts of the university. 
Funeral by funeral, the academy advances

marshwiggle

Quote from: secundem_artem on February 08, 2024, 09:50:20 AMSome people take academic jobs to change the world.  Some don't.

I didn't.  I try and give students the tools they may be able to use if they would like to change the world.  My research is hopefully useful to people who see something of value in it that they can use to change the world.

Some of my work is in the Global South.  I do try and bring about such improvements as I can, while realizing it's mostly bailing out the ocean with a bucket.

Me, most of the time I've only got enough bandwidth to pay attention to the things that I have a hope of dealing with. Climate change?  No interest.  Transphobia?  No interest.  The war in Ukraine?  Ditto.

But.... working where I do, I have had to learn how to feign interest and say the things that must be said to placate those who believe that climate change, transphobia, and the war in Ukraine simply must be things that we "stand with". (Whatever the hell that means.)

So, I'm basically a fake.  But at least I know I'm a fake, unlike the loudest, angriest and protestingest parts of the university. 

If people restricted themselves to things they could actually do something about, (other than yelling at other people), the world would be a vastly quieter and more pleasant place.
It takes so little to be above average.

Kron3007

Quote from: Langue_doc on February 08, 2024, 07:19:58 AMSo much virtue-signalling about one's commitment to the DEI buzz words. Non-white people's responses to the DEI questions don't go down well as seen in theNYT article

Here is the question posed to the non-white applicant who is understandably at a loss as to the proper response.
QuoteImpossible Questions
Would you please help me consider a useful, if not beneficial, response to an interview question that goes something like this:

"We at (organization name) are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Would you tell us how you are prepared to work effectively with colleagues and external stakeholders from backgrounds that are different from your own, and to contribute to our commitment to D.E.I.? Feel free to think broadly about your response, applying various aspects of your life and personal experiences."

I was asked this question by a panel consisting of three white women and one white man in senior positions, my age (50s) or younger (30s to 40s), no visible disabilities. I am and appear Latina (Spanish name, dark hair, brown skin). I am not comfortable disclosing personal information (such as a non-visible disability, background as an immigrant, queer identity, etc.).

I commended their commitment to D.E.I., not least because of the range of expertise and complementary skills it brings together. But then I went on to note that, as the only person of color in the room and having successfully lived, studied and worked for decades in predominantly white institutions, I am well prepared to work with and among people whose backgrounds differ from my own.

This did not go over well. I really need a new job. I would appreciate your thoughts on perhaps a more politic response.

— Anonymous

I, like many others, have encountered versions of this question for at least 15 years. I always want to submit a two-word response, "I'm Black," though I refrain because I assume it won't go over well, as you discovered. When you're marginalized or underrepresented, you're always working with and living among people with backgrounds different from your own. The expectation that you need to articulate how your reality has prepared you to contribute to an organization's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts can be frustrating. It is rare that companies are asking this question sincerely, but they do want you to answer sincerely or, at least, tell them what they want to hear. For now, let's assume questions like this are being asked in good faith. There are many resources online that offer guidance on how to answer diversity-related questions. The indeed.com "Career Guide," for example, offers sample questions and answers. Do some research about different ways to answer this question, and think through how you can answer them using your own voice and perspective.

Well, their answer sounds pretty weak and passive aggressive.  Some may even call it a micro-aggression....

Beyond the poor tone they delivered, they really failed to acknowledge that EDI is more than race or answer the question.  I have met plenty of homophobic minorities.
Simply being a minority is not an automatic EDI stamp of approval.  I personally feel that my lab is much more inclusive and welcoming than some profs in my department that happen to be visible minorities...

marshwiggle

Quote from: Kron3007 on February 08, 2024, 10:35:47 AMSimply being a minority is not an automatic EDI stamp of approval.  I personally feel that my lab is much more inclusive and welcoming than some profs in my department that happen to be visible minorities...

This illustrates one of the ridiculously intricate problems with how DEI operates, as opposed to what it should, in reality, attempt. If an employer from some minority group prioritizes hiring of their own (or possibly some other) minority group, they can get a DEI gold star, even if they actively avoid members of some other minority group. Note: It's virtually impossible for DEI wonks to be aware of, let alone respond to, all of the biases that exist between members of groups other than the ones to which they themselves belong. It's a cavernous hole with no bottom.
It takes so little to be above average.

Kron3007

Quote from: marshwiggle on February 08, 2024, 11:02:04 AM
Quote from: Kron3007 on February 08, 2024, 10:35:47 AMSimply being a minority is not an automatic EDI stamp of approval.  I personally feel that my lab is much more inclusive and welcoming than some profs in my department that happen to be visible minorities...

This illustrates one of the ridiculously intricate problems with how DEI operates, as opposed to what it should, in reality, attempt. If an employer from some minority group prioritizes hiring of their own (or possibly some other) minority group, they can get a DEI gold star, even if they actively avoid members of some other minority group. Note: It's virtually impossible for DEI wonks to be aware of, let alone respond to, all of the biases that exist between members of groups other than the ones to which they themselves belong. It's a cavernous hole with no bottom.

This is not really true, at least not here.

In our DEI sections, they do not ask for (or want) reports of how many men/women/white/purple staff and students we have.  They want a description of steps we take to support DEI.  This can include widely advertising positions, using non-gendered wording, etc.

Being a Martian researcher with lots of Martian students does not check the DEI box at all.

Ruralguy

My experience is that most of our DEI people have had a "big tent" philosophy that didn't necessarily focus on "their" group. Since we have no real DEI requirements on campus, their office is focused on creating a positive environment for minorities and relationship of the greater community to minority groups.

Langue_doc

@Kron, the response does sound wishy-washy. However, most institutional diversity statements are even more wishy-washy as seen in Harvard's Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, and Belonging, where the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer states:
Quote"My approach to the work is very much grounded in my academic interests in history and the law, and in thinking about how we've evolved, and how we haven't evolved, around questions of race and gender, and it comes from a deep passion toward effecting sustainable organizational change, and creating structures that outlast all of us, so that we can actually make progress. I fundamentally believe that many of the challenges that we face in higher education relative to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging have answers rooted in applied research. We must work together in the field to find them."

It isn't clear how Harvard's calls to "Dismantle Intersecting Oppressions" have succeeded in "dismantling intersecting oppressions". How would Harvard assess progress in this area?