ADI fiscal year 2017 in review, and looking ahead!

Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), which concluded in June, once again brought growth and new developments for the Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion (ADI) initiatives, which are sponsored by Executive Vice President and CFO Joanne DeStefano as well as Gerald L Hector, David A. Lifka, Glen C. Mueller, Christine M. Stallmann, Paul Streeter and Kathy R. Zoner. This coming year promises to build upon what’s been accomplished!

The number of groups in ADI increased again in FY17, with the addition of Budget and Planning, the Cornell Police, and Environmental Health and Safety. We now have over 600 constituents within ADI!

Diversity of Thought

This initiative was new for this year and the goal was to increase inclusiveness through various activities that encourage broader participation.

The outcomes on the five aspects to this initiative that have been pursued to engage the organization are as follows:

  • Staff Meetings: Each ADI Executive agreed to hold a staff meeting where members of the ADI committee would provide a brief presentation regarding the initiatives. All of the staff meetings were completed with positive feedback during the meeting discussions.
  • To ensure there is consistency regarding the hiring process to include diverse candidates, the “Diverse Applicant Pool” document was handed out to all supervisors, as appropriate.
  • To ensure there can be effective conversations on diversity between staff and supervisors, the 125 supervisors across all of the ADI organizations were requested to watch the “Having Difficult Conversations” video offered by 86% of the supervisors completed this training.
  • Each VP on the Executive Diversity Team agreed to hold specific dialogues on a diversity topic with their Supervisors. All of those dialogues were completed by June 2017.
  • An inventory was completed of committees/teams within the ADI constituency to ensure that “diversity of thought” is represented – which could be characterized through a combination of actions such as adding constituents not included in the past, varying the band levels on the committee, inclusion of diverse individuals, etc. A review of a total of 45 teams was completed and suggestions from the ADI team were sent to the initial submitters. Submission of the two teams requiring input from the Executive team on the recommendation is complete. A “tool” was developed to assist with this initiative becoming part of the fabric of how ADI constituents form teams. The document, entitled “Eliminating Unconscious Bias in the Selection of Participants on Decision-Making Teams,” has been distributed to ADI supervisors.


In FY17, training included more opportunities to join facilitated sessions and more self-paced learning options. There was a broader range of articles, videos, and facilitated sessions–33, up from 17 the previous year. Insights on a variety of diversity topics were available in different formats to accommodate a range of learning preferences and to support dialogue. Feedback from the hundreds of members of ADI units was overwhelmingly positive, and comments with improvement ideas are being used to better tailor training to the needs of future participants.

Supplier Diversity

The Supplier Diversity Program helps the campus to increase their spend with diverse suppliers which allows diverse suppliers to develop stronger relationships with customers on campus. In Fiscal Year 2017, 17 diverse suppliers were participants in the specific program targeted toward business growth, including one LGBTQ-owned business.

Typically, Cornell’s spending with targeted diverse suppliers has grown by approximately $1 million each year, and FY17 exceeded the historical goal because the actual growth was $4 million. Twenty-three campus units received specific reports of their diverse supplier activity in June and almost every unit had growth activity in FY17. Efforts to locate more LGBTQ-owned businesses have resulted in more candidates available to the campus.

Again this past year, the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management’s (JGSM) Big Red Consulting (BRC) teams worked with a select group of Cornell’s diverse suppliers. The BRC teams, comprising graduate students and a director for each team, helped the diverse suppliers grow their businesses by addressing their potentials for improvements and revenue increases. The graduate students participating in the program come from JGSM, ILR, and Engineering. Projects are selected that align suppliers’ needs with the skill sets of these students. The successful results of these efforts are evident in the suppliers’ feedback about the projects, as noted in the Cornell Chronicle article, Grad students offer diverse suppliers a better shot at growth.

Student Internships

Eighteen students began internships in June in departments within the Division of Financial Affairs, Cornell Information Technologies, Student and Campus Life, and the offices of Planning and Budget, and University Audit. Students are engaged in regular group interactions with their peers in weekly luncheons featuring guest speakers from Cornell’s administration. New in FY 2017, students learned more about how Cornell functions behind the scenes; they have had additional opportunities to lead their own social gatherings; and they have been surveyed about how they feel about the work environment in multi-generational offices. The interns also learned more about the diversity initiatives at Cornell, business etiquette, and working with Cornell’s Career Center to participate in mock interviews. Closing presentations to the leadership team and the intern supervisors occurred on August 4, 2017. A total of 24 interns participated in various aspects of the program including the aforementioned 18 interns, 5 interns that were hired through the EH&S program, and an additional intern from another college. See photos from the summer.


In 2017, ADI’s website,, received more than two thousand visits, resulting in almost five thousand pageviews. Regular quarterly newsletter emails are sent to all individuals in ADI member groups, and additionally several dozen people have signed up to be notified immediately as soon as a new article is published on the website. ADI posters are located prominently in staff areas of ADI members groups, and are updated annually to promote goals and initiatives as they evolve, as well as add groups as they join ADI.

Coming in FY18

In addition to continuing the existing approaches that have proven successful, ADI has identified the following goals for the coming year.

The Summer Intern Program will continue to hire disabled students, look into providing interns with unique exposure such as the CU Police through activities like ride-alongs. The feedback will be used to inform enhancements to the weekly lunch program, and the program will strive to continue to increase the number of diverse students.

The Diversity of Thought initiative will continue with annual staff meetings and will seek exposure opportunities for each unit that are different than typical workplace. (Tour of facilities, faculty presentations, exposure to Cornell programs in other divisions. Additionally, the development of dialogue tools will be piloted in FY18 within the ADI team)

Cultural Diversity Awareness will promote exposure to diverse cultures through events in each unit that could include food, music or dance from diverse cultures, or other social activities, such as a movie/discussion, diverse topic author dialogues, and related events.

Diversity Training will include the “menu” approach used for the last two years, as well as a “Presentations with Conversations” format. The approach follows a similar one used for other diversity dialogues at the university. This process will include a presentation followed by facilitated small-group dialogue, highlights of which will be shared back to the larger group for discussion. Most of the training materials from the past two years (those which received positive survey feedback) will still be offered as an experience to anyone interested in this self-paced learning approach. All of the training will be available on CU Learn which is expected to enhance the registration process.

The Supplier Diversity efforts will continue in the same fashion they have proceeded, to try to expand the reach and success of diverse suppliers on campus. ADI Communications efforts will also be maintained. Expect to see an update of the poster because ADI will be adding another unit, The University Counsel Office, along with a refresh of the newsletter look.

ADI thanks all members and participants for your continued support and enthusiasm! We hope that this year’s plans and activities will include some fun and make for a richer experience at the university for you, and for the Cornell community.