Looking back at 2015, welcoming change in 2016, and living the diversity experience

Another fiscal year has passed, and over the past few months you might have noticed news circulating about several changes in the diversity program:

  1. More departments have joined our initiative. The Division of Financial Affairs (DFA) and Cornell Information Technologies (CIT) welcomes University Audit, University Investments, the Office of the President, the Commencement Office, and the offices of the Provost, Dean of Faculty, Judicial Administrator, and Ombudsman.
  2. The name of our diversity effort has changed from DFA & CIT Diversity and Inclusion to Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion (ADI) as a result of the addition of new groups.
  3. The university’s Belonging at Cornell planning initiative has reduced the number of required goals for departments from five to three to five. As a result, for ADI, career development has been removed as an official goal of the diversity initiative. It will, however, remain a goal for our organizations.
  4. The institutional initiative has shifted focus for the next two years to the “lived experience” of diversity. This shift is intended to put all that we have learned thus far into practice by fostering intercultural skills and providing opportunities to engage with and work across differences, including partnering with other colleges and units to strengthen the impact of all of our endeavors. As you will see from our report below, we are making strides in this direction.

The goals for our five annual diversity initiatives for fiscal year 2015 were completed successfully, and we are making significant progress toward completing this fiscal year’s goals, with the “lived experience” in mind.

Summer Intern Program: Recruitment efforts began earlier in the year and included face-to-face outreach, social media, and increased marketing to diverse constituents, resulting in the largest pool of applicants for the program to date. Over 103 students applied for the initial 22 positions offered by DFA, CIT, and Cornell Store. Overall feedback from the students was positive, once again. Read more about the outcome.

For fiscal year 2016 (this fiscal year), we will focus on hiring interns beyond the summer program, begin hiring during the school year, and attempt to hire recent graduates. With the intention of building long-term changes in our organization’s composition, we will attempt to track and measure how successfully the organization can place high-performing students from the program into student positions or new hire openings. Cornell Career Services will help with identifying diverse candidates from a mixture of schools.

Diverse Supplier Engagement: Last year’s priority was identifying all diverse suppliers that currently provide goods and services to the university and leveraging those relationships to shift campus-wide spending to those businesses, giving them additional opportunity, as well as increasing Cornell’s compliance with federal and state grant funding requirements. Procurement Services’ Supplier Diversity Initiative is a key component in achieving this annual goal.

Procurement appealed to other campus units to add diverse supplier spending to their own diversity goals, and in the past year the number of units participating has grown from six to eleven (an increase of 46%). Procurement also added seven suppliers to the targeted supplier program, and introduced two New York State certified diverse suppliers, who provide laboratory supplies and travel services. To help achieve the goal of identifying more diverse suppliers, in January a new electronic registration form was introduced to suppliers to help them self-identify as diverse. As a result, eleven more diverse suppliers have been identified.

The supplier collaboration with Johnson School’s Big Red Consulting teams also continued this year, with the aim of providing new strategies to suppliers that participated last year. An initial project was started with one new supplier. In all, there were four projects with diverse suppliers in 2015. Read more about last year’s diverse supplier efforts.

This fiscal year, we are increasing collaboration efforts with campus units to increase spending with diverse suppliers, and we will continue the consulting projects with the Johnson School, which the faculty deem to be highly valuable. Last year’s program has already been evaluated for improvements, and face-to-face interaction between suppliers and consultants will be increased for 2016.

Diversity Training: Assisted again in fiscal year 2015 by the Cornell Interactive Theatre Ensemble (CITE), DFA, CIT, Budget, Investments, and Audit participated  in training focused on unconscious bias and micro-inequities. The program was tailored to present scenarios that were relevant to the organization and to promote more robust conversation by breaking sessions into smaller groups. Read more about 2015 training.

Changes to this fiscal year’s training program will allow employees to select training from a menu to give employees a personal choice and enhance learning.  The performance dialogue process will be adapted to include methods for recording, recognizing, and motivating engagement in diversity efforts, and supervisors will receive facilitation guidelines to build confidence when having dialogues with their work groups.

Career Development: Again last fiscal year, an informal networking program was launched with Human Resources and Safety Services (HRSS). Seven pairs participated in the informal networking program with HRSS, and nine pairs participated in DFA’s formal program. The formal mentoring process continued in DFA with additional pairings, and the program began development in CIT.  Nine pairs participated in DFA’s formal program. Feedback for both programs remains positive from the participants.

This fiscal year, the career development goal will not be an official part of the diversity initiative for our departments, but will continue as part of our organizational efforts. A recruitment and hiring effort will be added to help develop the processes and procedures to empower supervisors to ensure diverse candidates are considered during the hiring process.

Communications: The aim of the communications goal is to increase awareness and participation in the diversity efforts within our organizations. This past year, the diversity subcommittee initiated a quarterly email newsletter, and increased the number of articles posted to the blog throughout the year. A review of the blog metrics indicated that after the subcommittee began publishing the newsletter readership increased by 36.5%.

This fiscal year, with the addition of more units to our diversity initiative and the change in the name of the diversity committee, we have already redesigned the blog, which is now mobile-friendly; created a new email account; and will be issuing to departments refreshed diversity posters that reflect our new identity. We will continue to issue more messages and stories and address other communication needs throughout the year.

As we begin to live out the diversity values we have cultivated, if you are interested in becoming involved in any of these efforts, or if you have suggestions or questions, please contact the diversity committee at adi@cornell.edu.