How to go beyond just being diverse



Perhaps no campus in the state can boast Virginia Commonwealth University’s diverse demographics. But as VCU’s president found, simply being diverse isn’t enough. It needs to be part of an institution’s very fabric.

Catalyzed by a sit-in protest by African American students to address underrepresentation in the campus community, VCU’s president called in SIR to work with his executive leadership team. The goal was simple: How can we better build a climate of trust, honesty, and integrity, where all people are valued, and differences are recognized as an asset?

The first step in the process was establishing and fine tuning the mission of the President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. From there, SIR led meetings, focus groups, and townhall discussions with students, faculty, staff, and administrators across the VCU community, as well as developed a research plan to quantify and gauge the current climate and solicit feedback on VCU’s mission.

Our findings, trends research, and analysis helped shed light on where VCU was succeeding in its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and where it was falling short. Using these insights as a springboard, we worked with VCU’s president and the VCU Office of Inclusive Excellence to strengthen the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan. Today, we continue to provide on-call support to help ensure the plan gets put to good use.

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