Leadership diversity remains low

Diversity
Photo by Yale Daily News.

Upon first examination, the University staff is not significantly less diverse than the student body, with 28 percent of staff employees identifying as ethnic minorities.

But the leadership of the University is a different story — during a year of administrative transition, the top two University positions, provost and president, will remain filled by white males. When the groups of staff are broken down by rank, the percentage identifying as ethnic minorities steadily decreases to 17 percent at the managerial and professional level, 12 percent of the top 100 staff positions — which include University officers and those who report directly to them — and 10 percent of the 10 University officers, comprised of the University president, provost and eight vice presidents, all of whom but one are white.

With a number of initiatives already under way to promote more diversity in the faculty and staff, President-elect Salovey said he plans to direct his hiring efforts toward ameliorating this racial imbalance within the senior administration.

“We can be better,” Salovey said. “I’m going to work very, very hard as positions become open to see if we can increase diversity in the officers group and in the top 100 [staff members] throughout the management ranks at Yale.”

Salovey said that when he becomes University president, there will be both natural turnover in top positions as well as possible reorganization — two situations that present opportunities to “search aggressively” for candidates that would add diversity to Yale.

Michael Peel, vice president for human resources and administration, said the University has run into difficulty spreading diversity from the lower levels to the administration because preparing an internal candidate for top leadership roles can take years. The process has “fully matured” with women within the Yale staff — half of the University officers are women — but is still a work in progress from a racial diversity standpoint, he added.

University President Richard Levin said he is also unsatisfied with the diversity at the administrative level, and administrators are currently working hard to increase those numbers through a diversity initiative launched in 2005 that involves targeted hiring and promotion — improvement Salovey said he plans to build upon, though he added progress has been “rather slow.”

The percentage of minority staff members in Manager and Professional positions (M&P), which do not include senior administrators, has increased by roughly 1 percentage point each year since 2008. Peel said he attributes the steady gain to efforts such as requiring that 25 percent of external candidates be ethnic minorities, cutting the rate of turnover of minority employees in M&P positions and aggressively seeking out more minority candidates during the hiring process.

Diversity at top levels must reflect the makeup of the student body — 36 percent of which identify as minorities, according to the Office of Institutional Research — and nation as a whole in order to best represent the students taught by the University, administrators said.

“A university where the leadership and the management, let alone the faculty and students, all come from similar backgrounds, is a university that is not especially intellectually stimulating,” Salovey said.

University Secretary Kimberly Goff-Crews, who is African-American and the University’s only minority officer, said she does not notice the diversity imbalance, perhaps because the officers work so closely with the Yale Corporation and the University Council, which are both more diverse groups of leaders.

She added that while staff members on the whole have become more diverse, the diversity growth for top-level administrators may seem slower because many officers and their staff have long-standing tenures.

Yale is not the only university facing low diversity statistics for its top officials — Renee Alexander, diversity expert and associate dean of student affairs at Cornell University, said Yale’s percentage of minorities in leadership positions falls in line with peer institutions, though the numbers may appear “stark.” Higher education as a whole, she said, faces an inevitable process of diversifying its leadership in the near future.

She added that the low number of minority University administrators follows from the percentage of minority faculty members, since often administrators come from the ranks of the faculty.

Minorities made up 17.6 percent of Yale’s faculty in 2012, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research.

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