The minority population must be made aware of the organization, its purpose and mission. People need to know how to access the organization. Communication in the community must be ongoing and not a one-time blast. Visibility is a must.” (Theresia Wynns, former Indiana Assistant Commissioner, current NFHS Director of Sports and Officials Education.)
In this section, a number of different strategies that can help an organization be more inclusive and diverse are discussed, as well as a few general principles. The strategies you choose should obviously fit the goals you have developed, as discussed in the previous section, Forming a Foundation.
One overarching concept for your inclusion program is being intentional, deliberate and committed. In the “Forming a Foundation” section, we discussed the key element of top management involvement. This, along with the development of a rationale, vision and goals for your program, helps create inclusion and diversity as a value of the organization. These steps go a long way toward establishing intention and commitment. To implement the strategies discussed in this section most effectively will require another level of being intentional and committed. Another way of looking at this is that you are creating a mindset for diversity and inclusion. Thus diversity and inclusion become part of your thought processes in your discussions and work. They also become ingrained in the nature of the organization. Being deliberate and having a mindset for diversity will lead to more successful implementation of many strategies, and therefore help you reach your goals, sustain your efforts and make progress toward your vision.
Another important principle is to develop strategies for both recruitment and retention. While you are working on strategies to include more minorities and other under-represented groups in your workforce, you work simultaneously on strategies to make your current workforce – particularly your staff – more receptive and proactive about the diverse workforce you are creating. It is important to have a work environment ready for diversity. If the work environment, particularly in the office or primary setting, is not receptive to cultural diversity, then you may be able to recruit minorities to your workforce, but you will likely have a difficult time retaining them.
Having minorities and other under-represented groups on staff is an important goal. Doing so will likely improve the chances of having and maintaining more diversity in other parts of your workforce. There may be limitations in creating a more diverse staff for some interscholastic governing organizations, which include a small number of employees, including the administrative staff, and a low turnover rate. However, there are some strategies that can and should be worked on well in advance of a position opening to pave the way for more diverse applicants. This can be done while working on other areas of the organization’s workforce, where shorter-term goals may be attained.
Because the workforce of education-based interscholastic governing organizations can be very expansive, there should be multiple opportunities to include more minorities and other under-represented groups in these organizations. Below is a list of some typical “workers” that can be considered part of this workforce. Some of these workers may be paid by the interscholastic governing organization and others are not.
As you can see, even vendors have been listed as part of your workforce. This section will describe strategies that can be used in one or more of the workforce areas listed. Some of these areas will be discussed as examples for a particular strategy, since certain strategies will fit better in some areas than others. You may see other workforce areas where the strategy can be applied as is, or with modifications. Here is a list of the general strategies to be discussed.
Organizations often develop formal and informal types of networks with other organizations or groups from which they draw many of their candidates for workforce positions. You can start by reviewing the current sources of previous applicants or newer workers. If these current sources have produced few minority candidates, or you could reasonably project that they would, you will want to expand your sources. It may take time to develop connections to new sources. Work to expand sources can begin far in advance of a position opening or a need for workers.
You can look to develop connections with organizations that are known for their diversity or you know are more diverse. If you are not already networking with them, you can look to school boards and principals associations such as the NSBA and NASSP, and other education groups, including some closer to home, as possible sources. You can also ask them to help you identify other sources with potentially diverse applicants. State or local employment agencies may also be able to assist in expanding your access to new sources of candidates for your workforce. You can also check with organizations like the Urban League (www.nul.org), the NAACP (www.naacp.org), and other organizations representing minorities and women. Several of these organizations have regional, state or local offices that can assist your efforts.
In order to expand your sources to a more diverse pool of candidates for your workforce, you may even need to consider going outside of education, and maybe outside of the world of sports and performing arts also, at least for parts of your workforce. You may look to business organizations. Many of the skills that make someone successful in business can be applied within organizations that govern education-based interscholastic athletics and performing arts. Having an education, sports and/or performing arts background is obviously helpful. Still, having some workers in at least several areas of your workforce without such a background may be very appropriate based on their skills and the actual skills required for the position. Information technology, marketing, operations and support staff functions are a few areas that education-based interscholastic governing organizations have employed people without an extensive background in education, sports or performing arts. Examine these as well as other parts of your workforce to broaden your network of sources to more diverse business organizations to include more minority candidates.
As you look at your network of sources for your candidates, also look at the diversity among the vendors you are using for services and products. You may be able to find vendors that have more diversity among their staff. You may want to look at establishing contracts with minority, female or veteran-owned businesses, at least for a portion of your vendors. Even if some of the minority, women or veteran-owned businesses operate on a smaller scale than your current vendors, consider having them do part of the business in that area. For instance, a smaller minority, female or veteran-owned business might not be able to make all the T-shirts for all your events that your current vendor does. However, they may be able to do the T-shirts for some of your events. Although it may be a bit more work, it is another way to bring minorities, women and veterans more in contact with your organization. It also provides your organization with some back-up in case something ever happens with your larger T-shirt vendor.
Another example is that you may contract with medical facilities to provide trainers, doctors or other medical staff for various events. When you work with these medical facilities you can express you desire to include minorities and under-represented groups at the tournament or other event. You may also look for medical facilities that can provide more of the diversity you wish to have at your tournaments and similar events.
One further example is internships. If your organization provides internships, you may have developed connections with particular colleges or universities for these internships. It is usually easier to continue to work with those organizations that you already have established a relationship. However, if your connection with the schools is producing few, if any, minority interns, you may want to: 1) examine if the schools can provide more diversity among their internship candidates, and 2) establish relationships with other institutions that can provide more diversity of internship candidates. There are several groups of colleges that have special connections with minority groups, such as the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). See this list of Web sites to check for colleges and universities in your area. Internships can be a very useful tool for introducing students of color or female students to your organization. Going to job fairs or career days at diverse colleges and universities are ways to introduce minority and female students to the work of education-based interscholastic governing organizations and recruit for interns.
These are a few ways of expanding your network to other more diverse organizations and groups from which you can draw more minority and other under-represented group candidates. This can be an important strategy for increasing the diversity of the applicant pool for staff positions and for candidates in a number of other areas of your workforce.
Another way to increase your candidate pool for several areas of your workforce is to begin identifying individuals of minority and other under-represented groups as you come in contact with them. Again, this may even be in areas outside of education or sports. Look not only for those who could step into positions now, but also to those who hold promise for the future. Make a list of such candidates. You may directly encourage the person to apply for open staff or other workforce positions in your organizations. You can start by inviting them to be a part of some of your organization’s activities, i.e., tournaments, conferences, meetings and other events, including as guests.
Look for ways to involve them at some of your events. Because many workers are needed to manage tournaments and similar events, this could be a place to involve those you have identified. The list above of ancillary staff at tournaments may help you think about some possible positions where you can involve these identified people. Also consider roles at your other events, like conferences, meetings or training events to involve some individuals of under-represented groups in your organization.
When you look at your workforce at events you sponsor, consider doing more rotation of some of these positions. Officials are an example of tournament workers, although they are placed in their own category in the workforce list due to their other interaction with education-based interscholastic governing organizations. They are often assigned to playoffs, tournaments and/or championships based on a number of factors, which may include diversity as well as some type of rotational system, which is often used in a number of sports or activities. You may already consider diversity when assigning officials to tournaments or other events. You could also consider diversity and a rotational system for scorekeepers, announcers, National Anthem singers and other roles as well. Although it may be nice to use veteran announcers and scorekeepers over the years, these roles may provide great opportunities to involve others from under-represented groups.
Maybe you have identified minority or female athletic trainers, doctors or other medical staff people who could serve as medical staff at your tournaments or other similar events, at least on a rotational basis. If these positions are not rotated regularly at your events and are minimally diverse, consider doing some rotation to include the minority or female medical staff people you have identified.
Starting the process of identifying minorities and those of other under-represented groups who could fill roles within your organization will help develop a mindset for diversity. If most of the staff is encouraged to be, and is, actively engaged in this identification process, then this mindset will spread across your organization.
If you have identified someone who is part of an under-represented group as having promise for a future role in the organization, but is not quite ready, it may be a great mentoring opportunity. The identified individual may be able to assist a more experienced worker in his or her role, with the more experienced person mentoring him or her and helping the mentee learn more about the role. This could certainly happen in a number of the ancillary staff roles at tournaments and other similar events. Rules interpreters may be another role where mentoring may be very appropriate. Mentoring may also be considered for board, committee and staff roles.
Many of the organization’s staff could be encouraged to take on such mentoring roles. These mentoring roles could take place in a variety of ways. It may begin by inviting the identified person to a board or committee meeting, a state tournament, a regional meeting or any number of events. Although this may seem simple enough, it may present a high enough hurdle so that it doesn’t happen! This is particularly true when people are thinking about the time or effort starting such a relationship may take. Creating an environment where mentoring and other inclusion activities are viewed as part of the staff person’s job and are expected will help alleviate some of the concerns. After the initial invitation is accepted, there can be follow-up to find out if the person is interested in finding out more about your organization, how they may see themselves being involved, and a possible mentoring relationship.
This invitation and follow-up can be a great encouragement to the identified person and helpful in establishing a relationship, which can lead to further mentoring. If the identified person is interested, the mentor and mentee should establish some regular connection points or a schedule of connections. This can include some of the organization’s events and activities where the mentor serves. In addition to face-to-face meetings, other ways to communicate can and should be utilized. The mentor should check with the mentee about the effectiveness of their communication, to make sure that the important points communicated or demonstrated by the mentor are being learned by the mentee. The mentor should also find out what the mentee may need to be successful, and then, if possible, help the mentee with obtaining those skills.
Establishing mentoring relationships takes time, which is a precious commodity for many staff members of interscholastic governing organizations. For these staff members to take the time to develop these relationships, they will want to see that this is valued by the organization. This type of relationship usually benefits everyone involved in a number of ways, and certainly in advancing minority inclusion and diversity within the organization. Members of minority groups see that the organization takes a genuine interest in them, the identified individuals see opportunities within the organization, and the staff members develop new insights in knowing and working with someone from a different cultural background. Staff members may even see the opportunity to help someone from an underrepresented group replace themselves on the organization’s staff.
Your practices and policies for hiring staff and selecting other areas of your workforce can have a significant impact on who applies or becomes a candidate all the way to who actually gets selected for a position, role or as a vendor.
Your materials or processes for posting jobs, recruiting workers or contracting with vendors can make a difference in who seeks the position or contract. Examine these materials and processes to see that they are not biased in some way to favor the majority population or over-represented group – such as white, middle class males – particularly for some positions. Some of the organizations mentioned above that specialize in diversity and minority group affairs may also be willing to help with this review. Here are a few areas for you to consider regarding your recruitment and selection processes.
Look with a critical eye at your written materials for promoting open positions and soliciting contracts. Make sure the language is inclusive of and relevant to minorities and under-represented groups. Also look to see that they reflect what is actually needed for the position or contract. Ask yourself, “Is this what is really needed? Is this what I would like? And why do I like it? Is it what I am familiar with? Is it what we have used for a number of years? Does it reflect a cultural bias? Are there other skills, requirements or experience that might be just as important as those typically listed?” It is not uncommon for such materials to reflect our own cultural background and biases, which can play a significant role in perpetuating the practice of those of a similar culture getting those positions or contracts. You may want some other opinions on the position descriptions and contract solicitation materials from both inside and outside your organization to get other viewpoints on what could be needed for the position or contract. This could include some of the organizations mentioned previously or an individual who specializes in diversity and minority group affairs. You could also solicit this feedback from business associates from outside your organization who are part of a minority or other underrepresented group. Ask if they see a cultural bias and what they might do to reduce such bias to make things more relevant for people from minority and other underrepresented groups. Ask about the skills, requirements or experience they would emphasize in the written materials for the positions or contracts.
Look at where and how you advertise or recruit for positions and solicit contracts. If few minorities and under-represented groups are seeking the positions or contracts, you will want to expand advertising and recruitment. This is related to expanding the organizational network for drawing candidates (See Resources). You will want to ensure that your advertising and recruiting for positions and contracts are reaching new diverse organizations in your expanded organizational network.
Look at your procedures for taking in and screening applicants or candidates for all your workforce positions or contracts. Ideally, all applications or contract proposals should be handled in a similar manner. They all should be collected in a centralized place and screened in the same way. This is obviously to help balance the playing field somewhat. Applicants or potential vendors with some connection or social tie to people in the organization, particularly a tie to top executives, are usually at an advantage because of that reference. Also as a result of the connection, they may know more about the organization, the selection process and what will be key requirements of the position or the vendor. It should be acknowledged that those in the organization often refer more qualified applicants or contractors because of their knowledge of the organization, its needs and the applicant or contractor. Yet, this in and of itself can be counter to expanding diversity if your workforce is not a very diverse group. It will then often be the case that the social ties or network of workforce members is not very diverse either. You may need to consider ways to provide more balance to the screening and selection processes so the advantage to the referred applicant or vendor not does undermine your minority inclusion efforts.
Some of your current policies and procedures may need to be adjusted to promote a better process for all applicants, candidates or contractors. Some new policies and procedures may also need to be created to encourage diversity in seeking and selecting workers, including vendors. This can be challenging. Your non-discrimination policies are one level of encouraging diversity, and generally provide minimal standards generally ensuring fair practices. These policies are probably easier to establish because they represent a more minimal standard compared to policies that actively promote diversity and are also non-discriminatory. The policies you put in place to actively promote minority inclusion will help institutionalize creating and sustaining a diverse workforce. For instance, you might require that minority and female candidates be identified for all committee and board openings and staff positions. You may establish guidelines for diversity levels among your ancillary workers at tournaments and other events that you sponsor. You may also establish guidelines for diversity among the officials the organization sanctions or assigns to events and for the organization’s rules interpreters. The more formal these policies and procedures, the greater chance they will endure and have a long-term impact. (See NFHS Policy for Committee Nominations.)
Training is an important piece of developing cultural competence and having a workforce that is not only receptive to, but also proactive in creating a culturally diverse workforce. There are at least two types of diversity training.
The first type focuses on understanding and appreciating differences. Cultures have unique elements that result in some differences. Being more culturally competent is not only understanding how another person is affected by her or his cultural background and how that influences her or his interactions and work styles, but also how our own cultural background as well as our perception of others affects our own expectations, interactions and work. This first, or general, type of training often examines our own practices and how our cultural background affects our expectations, interactions and work. Our personal experiences may impact our perception of others as well.
These experiences can include how we may approach certain projects or tasks. This general training often helps us see that our way may not be the only way, but that others may typically have a different approach and get very satisfactory results as well. It may also show other cultural approaches to projects and work. This general type of training in cultural competence can help us to develop a better understanding of how such differences and approaches can blend together to be beneficial in a workgroup. The result of such training, and the experience of working with others using different approaches over time, can be a deeper appreciation of our differences. More of us can end up thinking, “It’s good not everyone is like me because others can see and do things in ways I usually don’t, and that is helpful!”
The other type of cultural competence training focuses on creating a better understanding of a specific culture or set of cultures. Most of these trainings provide important background information about critical elements of the culture and how they affect interactions and work approaches. However, there obviously can be many cultures to learn about. Among Native Americans, there are hundreds of tribes or nations. Depending on where you live, getting training on all the different cultures represented may be a daunting task. Also regardless of how much of this specific cultural training you have received, one still needs to be careful of making assumptions about any particular culture. There are always exceptions and individual differences. A good posture is to remain a learner of other cultures. Be open to learning in interactions with someone of a different cultural background. Asking respectfully and listening thoughtfully can be a good practice to follow in encounters with those of another culture, particularly when you are unfamiliar with their customs and ways of doing things. Developing cultural competence is really an ongoing, lifetime process.
Both of these types of training are very valuable. A helpful approach is to develop a diversity training plan that includes both of these types of training and provides the training on a regular basis. Consider starting with the general type of training. Better understanding and appreciating differences can help develop a good frame of reference for the training on specific cultures. Also, as your workforce changes, you will likely need to repeat some training for newer members. Just as repetition is important to develop athletic or performing arts skills, repetition of these trainings for existing staff is often beneficial as well. There is often a lot to take in at cultural competence and diversity trainings.
To further ingrain inclusion and diversity into your organization, consider making such training part of your professional development plans for your staff and other parts of your workforce. The professional development opportunities could include attending select open enrollment trainings outside the workplace offered by groups or organizations that specialize in diversity or cultural competence training. This could be in addition to the trainings you bring in-house for larger parts of your workforce. Making diversity and cultural competence trainings part of professional development further stresses their importance. Having individuals or small groups within your workforce go through this toolkit could also be a part of your professional development plans.
Having a diverse workforce provides a number of benefits for your organization, many of which have probably been identified in your organization’s rationale for its minority inclusion and diversity program. However, to reap many of those benefits, diversity in the workforce needs to be managed well. Doing your Forming a Foundation activities and implementing several of the strategies described in this section will help you establish a work culture that is more inclusive and diverse. However, managing a diverse workforce well will require even more than bringing individuals of minority status or other under-represented groups into the workforce. It will go beyond diversity training and the acknowledgement of differences in people.
Managing diversity will mean promoting inclusiveness. It will involve creating and implementing plans to integrate inclusion into all areas of the organization and its functioning. This is another part of being intentional and developing a mindset for inclusion and diversity.
One key part of good diversity management will be the demonstration of the ability to appreciate and recognize the value of differences. Good sports teams and performing arts groups blend differences among athletes and performers in ways that result in consistently good overall performances. Blending these differences into a high performing team or group is part of the skill, or art, of coaching. As good coaches value and utilize different skills in individual team or group members to maximize performance, blending differences of different people in a work group or a workplace should likewise be part of the skill or art of good managing. Managing a diverse workforce will likely bring new respect for a wide range of differences.
Part of good coaching is also handling the challenges that come with trying to blend individuals with differing skills and their perceptions of each other’s skills. Good diversity managers should expect that there would be challenges to managing a diverse workforce. Some of these challenges may be similar to others, like bringing in new members to an existing group. Some of these can work themselves out over time. However, if they are related to cultural diversity, it is probably better addressed earlier than later. This will also further establish a proactive approach to minority inclusion and cultural diversity.
There may also be a need for managing cultural differences that seem to go beyond work styles and the functioning of work groups. Other cultural differences may affect work relationships. Non-work-related discussions, like those at the water cooler, may revolve around topics of more interest to the organization’s majority culture, and be of little interest to those of a minority or other under-represented background. A significant amount of such discussions may cause those not of the majority culture to feel left out and a lesser part of the group or organization, which can affect retention. Although it is nearly impossible to control such conversations, good management, possibly supported with additional diversity training, can create awareness and sensitivity to such conversations. Good managers of diversity can model having conversations that explore different cultural interests. Creating an environment of learning about cultural backgrounds will help demonstrate appreciation of such cultural differences.
One specific technique for creating this environment is to have people share something from their culture or growing up with others. This could include a picture or other piece of memorabilia along with a brief story about its meaning. Members of the majority culture may need to be reminded that they, too, have a cultural background, which is important to reflect upon. Cultural background is significant force in determining who each of us is today. This culture sharing could be done as a one-time event with people mixing informally as they exchanged their stories, or it could be done as more formal brief presentations. It could also be done over a period of time at particular meetings with one or a few people sharing at each meeting. Done either way this could also be considered part of your diversity training.
Make inclusion and diversity a regular part of meetings, work discussions and other work functions. Strive to have the creation and production of publications and other materials to be as inclusive as possible. Have those who are involved in these activities be responsible for the integration of inclusion and diversity into the work. It can be helpful to have those who are part of minority groups assist in these activities. However, if these same individuals are involved in the integration too often, it can appear they are responsible for inclusion and diversity, instead of all staff or other workforce members. Make this a normal topic and part of the work for every part of the organization’s work and its workforce members.
Negative attitudes and behaviors toward inclusion and diversity may be some of the bigger challenges that managers face. Apathy toward the initiative may be another. Such attitudes and behaviors can obviously negatively affect working relationships, morale and productivity. Such attitudes – and particularly the behaviors – will need to be addressed. In some respects, they may be dealt with using skills similar to handling other performance issues. If diversity and inclusion are being integrated into all areas and functions of the organization, it should be reflected in employee performance evaluations. Expectations regarding inclusion and diversity should also be clearly stated in written documents for other areas of your workforce as well. Having these written expectations will help managers handle negative behaviors and apathy toward inclusion and diversity. Still, handling performance issues is often challenging, and those around diversity issues may be even more so. See the Scenarios section for a few more ideas on managing inclusion and diversity for some specific situations. Obviously, overt discrimination of any sort is a serious problem, and should be dealt with in accordance with state and federal laws and the anti-discrimination policies of your organization.
Organizations will likely have workers on a continuum from negative attitudes to positive attitudes toward minority inclusion and diversity. Managing diversity well will include supporting those who have positive attitudes and are actively involved in your inclusion and diversity efforts, as well as moving others along toward that end of the continuum. Managing diversity, along with creating and maintaining a diverse workforce, will be an ongoing process.
As you look at number of strategies, the task of implementing them may seem daunting. The initial steps to do this will likely be the most difficult. However, implementing several of these strategies will help establish a climate that is more receptive and proactive toward the inclusion of minorities and a diverse workforce. You will be creating a mindset for diversity. As we develop and sustain more diverse workplaces and use the resources of minorities and other under-represented groups to assist in these efforts, the work of being diverse workplaces should become more institutionalized. In the next section we will discuss a number of things you can do to keep your minority inclusion and diversity efforts at the forefront of your work.
Now that you have reviewed several strategies for increasing minority inclusion, take some time to think about how these strategies can be used with your organization’s workforce. You should also consider the goals you set in Forming a Foundation and which strategies will be effective in meeting those goals. Below is a checklist to help you create a plan to use several of the strategies to increase minority inclusion and diversity in the work of education-based athletic and fine arts governing organizations discussed in this section and to align those strategies with your goals.
Review the chart below and put a check mark in the boxes where you plan to use the strategy with that part of your workforce.