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Making a Business Case for Campus Diversity

Anita NahalAnita NahalIt is a well-known fact that establishing a business case for diversity is not an easy task. This can be an even greater challenge in educational institutions because diversity goals may not always translate to hard cash. In today’s world of shrinking resources, jobs and socioeconomic opportunities, diversity as a societal and cultural value is a declining commodity. And to achieve the set goals, author Dr. Edward Hubbard says that “measuring the results of diversity initiatives will become a key strategic requirement to demonstrate its contribution to organization performance.”[i]

In a university or college setting, making a pitch for the business case for diversity has mostly to do with buy-in of leadership, students, faculty, staff and various other internal and external stakeholders. Of all these, of course, leadership buy-in is the key to successful acceptance of diversity. Because as Andy Brantley, president and chief executive officer of the College & University Professional Association for Human Resources says, “Leaders … set the tone … their positions on diversity, equity and inclusion are reflected every single day through their actions, through their words, through the things they chose to do or chose not to do.” And buy-in by other stakeholders on the campus leads to a sense of “shared responsibility.”

In a university setting, it is critical to connect the mission of the university with diverse recruitment of faculty staff and especially students. If the mission of the university is to educate individuals to become national and global leaders, then diversity has to be incorporated in myriad ways in the institutional fabric. It goes without saying that diversity is an intrinsic value component in any organization, the benefits of which are culturally measurable in various ways, such as greater knowledge and awareness of those different; motivation for improved personal and professional relationships; and an elevated cohesive work environment bringing the set goals to profitable fruition. However, if one can establish a direct correlation between diversity and its business benefit, it will be easier for educational institutions to promote diversity.

This is explained in the bullet points below which provide the likely end results in monetary benefits.

Likely end results, and thus, what is the business case for campus diversity:

· Increased diverse student applications, thereby additional tuition revenue

· Increased retention of students, faculty and staff, leading to more productivity and less wastage, thereby money saved

· Less resignations/layoffs, terminations of diverse employees, thereby money saved

· Better academic scores and increased student completion and graduation rates, thereby quicker time to completion saves money

· New and diverse ideas, thereby new collaborations, of which some may bring in new grants or other funding opportunities

· Increased promotions and leadership positions for diverse individuals, thereby less turnovers and money saved

· Teaching courses on diversity issues or diverse cultures, and increase in study-abroad opportunities, thereby possibilities of new financial support

· Increased diversity programs and events, thereby generating increased new internal and external financial support

· Increased supplier diversity, thereby brining new support and money from diverse vendors

· Increased commitment to community issues, thereby generating support leading to increased corporation and donor funding

· Better campus diversity practices attracts more diverse alumni funding

· Less discrimination cases against the institution, thereby money saved

This article has been adapted from a longer version by the author, “The Business Case For Diversity— NAT diversity triangle—Need, Application & Training.” Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP is a diversity consultant, former professor and assistant provost for international programs, and currently serves as the Fellowship Program Administrator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. She is also the founder and chairperson of She can be reached at [email protected].

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