September 10, 2021 | By Kevin Gray
TAGS: best practices, diversity and inclusion, program development, nace insights, special populations, career development, employer relations
Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
As the United States and the world reckoned with the reality of racial inequity, discrimination, and need for social justice through movements like Black Lives Matter in the spring and summer of 2020, University of New Hampshire (UNH) Career and Professional Success (CaPS) looked deeply at the work it does, the services it offers, and the ways it prepares students for the workforce.
“As a broader institution, the University of New Hampshire is committed to building and nurturing an environment of inclusive excellence where all students, faculty, and staff can thrive,” says Raina Sprague, CaPS’ director of employer relations.
“We believe diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion are foundational values inextricably linked to achieving our core educational mission.”
Part of that mission is to help employers establish or enhance their work around diversity and inclusion by providing them with resources, consultation, and recognition.
According to Amanda Sophinos, CaPS’ technology and data optimization director, the goal of providing these to employers is to:
UNH CaPS harvests the resources it offers employers based on its program criteria, which requires the integration of diversity and inclusion in the following spaces:
Resources are sourced from reputable sites, such as NACE, Harvard Business Review, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, SHRM, and World Economic Forum. In addition, some are sourced by CaPS’ partners at The Beauregard Center (UNH’s department working to create a more inclusive, equitable, and socially just campus) and the Office of Community, Equity, and Diversity (UNH’s central organizational structure responsible for directing, monitoring, advancing, and supporting diversity efforts). All sources are vetted.
“We happily offer consultation services prior to and/or after an organization has applied to UNH’s Diversity and Inclusion Employer Champion Program,” Sprague says.
“If an employer reaches out inquiring about diversity and inclusion employment and hiring practices, we seek to understand the goals of the organization’s DEI priorities and help answer any questions they have. We find it beneficial to set up meetings to understand their needs and questions, provide them with resources, and encourage their application.”
Employers participating in the Diversity and Inclusion Employer Champion Program must accomplish all seven of the criteria below to be designated a “Champion,” while employers that accomplish at least four of the criteria will be designated a “Rising Champion.” The criteria are that the company:
• Has a data-driven approach to equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives with 1) public or easily accessible data on diversity retention and diversity in leadership, and 2) measurable goals management and executive leadership are held accountable for meeting.
• Operational strategy and decision-making are transparent and measured against objectives promoting sustainability and social equity.
• Equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging efforts integrate and add value to the local community. Value is created through donation of time, resources, or money to underrepresented community populations or local socially equitable policies
Once an application is received, Jasmine Huffman, the CaPS operations support specialist, reviews it, noting areas in which the employer excels and areas that offer opportunities for improvement. Next, CaPS schedules a meeting to discuss their application further.
“We start these meetings by asking the employer to provide an overview of their current diversity and inclusion initiatives,” Huffman says.
“This overview often highlights the initiatives the employer is particularly engaged in or excited about. Once our team has a firm understanding of the organization’s current state, we compliment them on initiatives that we assess as highly impactful and urge them to continue and grow.”
The CaPS team follows up by discussing the areas it has identified that need improvement and consider ways to advance with the help of specific resources and counsel.
“If we do not accept the employer or if we accept them as a Rising Champion, we discuss specifically what they can do to put their organization in a position to re-apply and be accepted or promoted to Champion status,” Huffman adds.
In the few months since the launch of the program, CaPS has recognized four employers as Diversity and Inclusion Champions and two as Rising Champions.
“Our aim is for the recognition to help the employers stand out to our student community and allow them to connect better with candidates sharing the same values,” Sprague explains.
“We plan to discuss ways we can use this recognition as a requirement for employer promotion to identity-based student groups.”
Those employers accepted at a champion level receive several recognitions throughout the academic year. They receive a “Diversity & Inclusion Champion” label in Handshake that is visible and searchable by students and the employer’s name is listed on CaPS student-centered diversity resources webpage.
Starting this fall, employers accepted at a champion level will also receive an identifier on career event guides and marketing content, promotion on CaPS social media accounts, inclusion in active jobs feed on the CaPS main webpage, and a quarterly shout-out in the internal student leadership newsletter.
“CaPS believes deeply in the [university’s] commitment to diversity, and as such, we want to assist students and alumni in connecting with employers that value diversity and inclusion and demonstrate this through their actions,” Sophinos says.
Sprague and Sophinos identify key elements of UNH CaPS’ diversity and inclusion resources, consultation, and recognition efforts that make them effective:
Sprague and Sophinos offer other recommendations for their colleagues in career services for creating and managing effective diversity and inclusion resource libraries and recognition programs, including:
“While we are proud of the action we’ve taken, we acknowledge there is more work to do and look forward to continuing our efforts in this space,” Sprague says.
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