Shared Equity Leadership: Four Approaches to Structuring the Work

As higher education leaders have been increasingly concerned about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), institutions have organized and structured efforts to create inclusive and equitable environments for students, faculty, and staff of diverse backgrounds in a variety of ways. The most typical approach is hiring a chief diversity officer (CDO), who takes primary responsibility to handle DEI-related issues on campus. But the CDO position is limited in creating meaningful changes if power, resources, and authority are not delegated to them.  Williams and Wade-Golden (2013), drawing on their extensive research on CDOs, suggest that effective DEI efforts should be organized by many people across campus rather than in a siloed CDO position or office and that the CDO ideally should integrate various DEI efforts across campus. Kezar and colleagues (2008) also note that presidential leadership to advance DEI is most effective when presidents delegate the work to multiple campus actors, such as faculty, administrators, student affairs staff, students, board members, and external organizations.

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