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The Division of Talent & Inclusion: SIE Progress on Creating a Culture of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

May 31, 2022

The Division of Talent and Inclusion (T&I) is committed to building an inclusive campus culture through equitable practices, policies and collaboration.  We are truly excited about our ongoing efforts to advance T&I’s Sustainability Inclusive Excellence (SIE) Action Plan that will align with WPI’s Lead with Purpose Strategic Plan to increase the diversity of WPI and establish structures and systems to ensure an inclusive campus community.

Our T&I team has developed the following SIE goals where we believe we can make a positive impact on the WPI community:

  • Improve talent acquisition strategies and initiatives to have a broader outreach in attracting and engaging for more diverse faculty and staff candidates
  • Increase employee retention and lower voluntary attrition rate of diverse faculty and staff
  • Support student co-curricular education around topics of identity, diversity, equity, access, and inclusion
  • Develop campus-wide DEI educational opportunities that promote greater institutional capacity, social responsibility, and individual agency to advance sustainable inclusive excellence at WPI

The Division of Talent & Inclusion is collaborating with the Our Inclusive Community committee of the Strategic Plan to officially launch the new Staff Council in 2022.  The Staff Council will represent the voice of staff on campus and will serve as an advocate to support the interests and needs of staff. The goal is to increase engagement and provide a positive and an inclusive environment for all WPI staff.

In effort to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, T&I is actively working on various initiatives to increase our visible commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruitment.  We are leveraging social media and other marketing platforms by adding visual branding and DEI content, and developing a comprehensive database of recruitment sources that target diverse applicants for hiring, including associations, conferences, networking, job fairs and other outreach efforts. We will be implementing inclusive search/hiring training that we expect to become a common practice in hiring for faculty and staff.  Additionally, there will be a review of data to drive our efforts and create a better understanding of workforce availability, demographics of our applicant pools, and new hires and attrition to develop the right targeted strategies for recruitment and retention.

T&I is evolving our current systems with more inclusive features and have recently added gender identity options in Workday for the full campus community.  We have launched an updated exit interview process with new questions specifically on DEI and belonging. The new DEI questions focus on a sense of belonging within the campus community and the department/division’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This process will gather valuable data around feelings of exclusion because of a difference related to your race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression. We have also modified the competencies for evaluating performance to incorporate more direct references to our values and expectations of the community to behave in ways that are aligned with them.

A new permanent remote/flexible work policy is established and beginning this summer, T&I will launch a comprehensive staff position classification and compensation study to analyze equity, job levels, and career ladders in efforts to ensure fair and competitive salaries and increase employee retention.

T&I will also be exploring comprehensive and centralized onboarding strategies to improve the candidate experience as well as developing a robust set of professional development and learning programs for faculty and staff that consistently will have DEI concepts embedded to foster a culture of respect and inclusion as well as mental health and well-being.

The Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education (ODIME) formally OMA will support student co-curricular education around topics of identity, diversity, equity, access, and inclusion with establishing and enhancing advocacy workshop series.  This will provide tools to raise awareness of biases and stereotypes and aims to improve engagement of students across difference and help dismantle inequities in the practices, policies and social interactions in their personal and professional spheres of influence.

ODIME and Talent and Inclusion are curating and launching faculty and staff support and networking groups for BIPOC/ALANA, LGBTQIAP+, and faith/spirituality communities at WPI to assist with supporting our students.

ODIME, club advisors, and administrators will be assisting the Black Student Union (BSU), African Student Association (ASA), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and Caribbean and Hispanic Student Association (CHSA) with facilitating more collaborative programs and learning experiences for students across the African diaspora at WPI.

ODIME serves as partners and advisors to the Understanding the Experiences of Black Students at WPI—and How to Improve Them study by Dr. Hermine N. Vedogbeton and faculty in Department of Social Science and Policy Studies.

ODIME is thrilled to announce the inaugural Assistant Director for Religion and Spiritual Life will begin in July 2022.

A new, restructured position as Assistant Vice President for DEI has been established. The new AVP for DE&I will collaborate with T&I colleagues and with academic and administrative leaders across divisions to deliver on WPI’s vision for fostering a living, learning and working environment that is inclusive for all and in which all members can thrive. This role will continue to develop campus-wide DEI educational opportunities that promote greater institutional capacity, social responsibility, and individual agency to advance sustainable inclusive excellence at WPI. An active search to fill this position is in progress.