New Tool Empowers Career Centers to Promote Anti-Racism Among Employers

February 8, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

Building blocks

TAGS: best practices, career development, diversity and inclusion, nace insights, special population,

Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

Having worked with scorecards in the past, Roderick Lewis understands their power in initiating individual and organizational change management through transparency and accountability. This understanding is the catalyst for him developing a new scorecard for organizations to use to assess the effectiveness of their diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and social justice efforts. 

“The Anti-Racism & Gender Equality Scorecard [DEI Scorecard] builds on a research project I began 10 years ago when writing my first book on corporate recruitment,” explains Lewis, senior associate director of university career services and director of external relations at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“At that time, I evaluated and measured the employer brands of more than 500 multinational companies using proprietary rubrics that I developed to look at several indicators—which included DEI. The racial injustices that marked [last] year only strengthened my resolve to create a scorecard that is a change agent, and not merely window dressing. The DEI Scorecard that I’ve developed for career centers is a transformative tool to place them in a position to foster real change in the employers engaging with their campuses.”  

The goals of the initiative are to:

  • Empower career centers to have a voice in promoting anti-racism/sexism in the workplace, community, and academia;
  • Provide a tool to help career centers become more equity-minded when thinking about historically disadvantaged groups in the workplace, community, and academia;
  • Influence employers to be transparent and accountable for the equitable outcomes in recruitment, retention, and advancement of historically disadvantaged groups;
  • Influence employers to play meaningful roles in education, entrepreneurship, employment, and economic mobility opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups; and
  • Influence campus community partners to work with career centers to bridge equitable academic outcomes with equitable professional outcomes for historically disadvantaged groups.

 “It’s a tool that can be scaled to impact more students from those groups than any one campus entity could do alone,” Lewis says.

“I am focusing on inequities in educational, entrepreneurship, employment, and economic mobility outcomes for women, Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinx, and Indigenous Americans. This focus is not at the exclusion of other disadvantaged groups, but I want to tackle the ‘elephant in the room’ that many people are still uncomfortable discussing. And so the first iteration of this scorecard is only focused on those groups for the employers we’re evaluating.”

The DEI Scorecard evaluates an organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice efforts in four core perspectives:

  • People & Inclusive Leadership Perspective;
  • Retention & Advancement Perspective;
  • Employer Branding & Recruitment Perspective; and
  • Community & Social Impact Perspective.

Each of the four perspectives is defined by three unique key performance indicators (KPI), and each KPI is defined by three unique criterion. These criterion are then further broken down into measurable outputs defined by the aforementioned historically disadvantaged groups.

The goal is to measure “what” is impacted in the groups and/or “how” it is impacted. Measurable outputs are assigned points based on proprietary rubrics. Average scores can be compared for selected organizations across each of the four perspectives and 12 KPIs.

Lewis cautions that the scorecard is not a panacea, nor is it a one-off transactional tool. It is designed using balanced scorecard methodology and principles.

“The perspectives I identified serve as a guide to evaluate an employer’s contribution to the equitable outcomes of disadvantaged groups beyond transactional recruitment,” he says.

“The standard version of the tool will allow career centers—in particular, those charged with employer relations—to take a holistic view of an employer’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice endeavors. It will allow career centers to have an objective tool to evaluate their employer partners and help those organizations develop the capacity to improve practices in their workplaces, communities, and academia that influence the inequities faced by historically disadvantaged groups.”

Alternatively, Lewis continues, the tool can also help career counselors and coaches during one-on-one sessions, guided group sessions, or workshops to educate historically disadvantaged students on how to engage in meaningful discussions about DEI with employers in which they are interested.

“For students who don’t identify as historically disadvantaged, the tool is just as useful and powerful as an instrument of transformative change around thoughts and sense-making of DEI and social justice in the workplace, community, and academia,” Lewis notes.

“Everyone has a role to play in dismantling and minimizing the individual and societal harm caused by systemic racism/sexism.”

Lewis hopes he has built a common DEI Scorecard framework that can be adopted by all career centers. Career center professionals could customize elements of the scorecard to reflect their institutions’ reality with employers, student programming, and other campus community partners.

“That,” he says, “would facilitate the usage of common language when engaging with employers and set expectations for them to have in place, or strive to have, people, policies, practices, and processes that promote equitable outcomes for the historically disadvantaged students that they seek to hire.

“The DEI Scorecard serves as a strategic bridge between an employer’s ability to develop its Learning and Growth Perspective [Balanced Scorecard Framework] and a post-secondary institution’s ability to produce its Excellence Perspective [Equity Scorecard Framework].”

Lewis explains that the work typically done at the college level to produce equitable academic outcomes of historically disadvantaged student groups does not always extend to producing equitable professional outcomes at the point of graduation—and beyond.

“The DEI Scorecard seeks to positively influence an important level of transparency and accountability for employers on the role they play in reducing societal, academic, and workplace inequities for historically disadvantaged groups,” he says.

“The development of this scorecard could not have come at a better time; 2020 was most certainly a year of heightened awareness around systemic racism and social injustice. There has been an increase in the number of employers that are moving beyond performative acts to address this problem and their efforts are not going unnoticed.”

He says the scorecard aligns strategically with this paradigm shift as companies that have the size, clout, and determination begin to tackle these systemic challenges, while simultaneously servicing their shareholders.

“These are the conscious companies and leaders who truly feel a sense of responsibility to non-shareholding stakeholders, including students, employees, communities, customers, suppliers, and others,” Lewis notes.

“A growing number of CEO’s are doing more than just performative acts by doubling down on their efforts to improve wealth-building and economic mobility opportunities for groups that have faced the brunt of structural racism and social injustices.

“This heightened level of consciousness around racial inequity and social injustice isn’t just for the employers to ponder. It is also for us as career center professionals, as well as our extended campus community partners, to think about how we move forward in more thoughtful and equity-minded ways.”

Lewis envisions a new calling for career center professionals.

“It is one that has us taking a more proactive approach to track the equitable outcomes in the workplace of historically disadvantaged students beyond the point of our role in helping them to get hired for internships, co-ops, and full-time jobs, in addition to experiential learning opportunities,” he explains.  

“This will require us to collectively influence and encourage employers to share and report their disaggregated data on historically disadvantaged groups so that post-secondary institution stakeholders can partner with them to be part of the solution for improving any glaring disparities.”  

The Anti-Racism & Gender Equality Scorecard (DEI Scorecard) is available in the NACE Community’s Resource Library.